Improving nutrition for older people through teaching and research

Stacey Jones is a Principal Lecturer at Coventry University, training pre-registration undergraduate dietitians as well as the course director of the Dietetics programme. She is now also undertaking a new role in ‘Quality and Curriculum Development’ working across all of the health disciplines within the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health.

Aside from teaching, Stacey is also undertaking a doctoral research project investigating the causes, consequences, treatment and prevention of sarcopenia in ageing, with a particular interest in the combined effect of resistance exercise alongside optimising nutritional status in older adults.

Awareness of sarcopenia is important as we lose our muscle mass and strength at a faster rate as we get older, and this can have consequences such as an impaired immune system, greater risk of falls, reduced independence and reduced quality of life as well as an increased risk of overall morbidity and mortality.

Maintaining muscle mass and strength through regular exercise and adequate nutritional intake is important and often something older people struggle with due to limited mobility, limited access to food and drink, or lack of motivation.

Through teaching and research, Stacey emphasises that losing weight is not a normal part of ageing. Unintentional weight loss can also mean a loss in muscle mass and strength, impacting on quality of life and independence.

Family and carers can support their loved ones by helping with cooking and shopping, encouraging small, regular meals and snacks, offering nourishing energy dense foods and drinks, and fortifying foods with extra calories and protein without increasing the volume, such as adding cheese, cream, milk powder and extra butter to foods. Social eating may improve appetite as loneliness can have an impact on the desire to want to eat, especially in the elderly.