Heather Keller, Schlegel Research Chair, Nutrition and Aging

University of Waterloo

Heather Keller RD PhD FDC FCAHS is the Schlegel Research Chair in Nutrition and Aging at the University of Waterloo. She is an internationally recognized expert in geriatric nutrition, assessment, and treatment. Research areas focus on nutrition risk and malnutrition identification and treatment across care sectors; improving nutrition care processes and implementing screening and other best practices; supporting food intake of diverse groups living in the community, including those living with dementia; and improving hospital and residential food and promoting food intake and the mealtime experience in these settings. Professor Keller has led several national research and knowledge translation projects, including the landmark Nutrition Care in Canadian Hospitals, More-2-Eat and Making the Most of Mealtimes in Long Term Care studies. Professor Keller has published more than 225 peer-reviewed articles and translates much of this evidence into practice with tools and resources. As a founding member and past chair/co-chair (2009-2018) of the Canadian Malnutrition Task Force, she is involved in translating research into practice and advocating for improvements in nutrition care. She is currently the chair of the primary care working group for CMTF and involved in several national and international expert groups advancing the prevention, detection and treatment of malnutrition.

Vulnerability of community-living older adults during the pandemic: understanding increased risk for undernutrition

Older adults living in the community have been a group considered highly vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only is the group at increased risk for serious infection and hospitalization, but the physical distancing procedures required have resulted in concerns for social isolation and degradation of health due to lack of social opportunities and furloughed healthcare services or appointments. Certainly those admitted to hospital with serious symptoms of the virus have been demonstrated to be or become malnourished during hospital admission. Less is known about the effects of public health measures and social restrictions on food choice and nutritional health. This presentation will focus on what we do know from published literature and highlight some descriptive results from an on-going longitudinal being conducted in Ontario, focused on understanding the effects of the pandemic on social isolation, mobility and nutrition risk.