Elderly people with mental health problems (associate professorship)

Care for the elderly is changing rapidly and it is vital that organisations in the areas of healthcare, well-being, training and research should work together. As the Associate Professor for Elderly people with mental health problems, Gea van Dijk is committed to pooling knowledge and experiences and conducting joint research for the benefit of older clients, their loved ones and healthcare workers. The associate professorship in Elderly people with mental health problems ties in with the Sustainable Development Goal ‘Good health and well-being’. 

Professional practice

Within the professorship, we actively collaborate with healthcare providers, welfare organisations, (representatives of) clients, volunteer organisations, and other training and knowledge centres and authorities. These partners come together in various forms of collaboration.


The associate professorship in Elderly people with mental health problems is the result of a partnership between NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences and Noorderbreedte. With this associate professorship, NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences contributes to the ‘Vital regions’ key priority area. As a partner, Noorderbreedte wishes to invest in research into evidence-based interventions in elderly people with psychological problems, such as gerontopsychiatric clients, clients suffering from Korsakoff syndrome or clients with multiple pathologies with a psychological component. 

The focus of the associate professorship is on improving evidence-based practice: 

  • Gaining insight into the developments of the client group and improving the self-reliance of the elderly person suffering with psychological problems. 

  • Improving the involvement of the client system/the family for the elderly person with psychological problems and the care for that client (including the issues of family participation and family support). 

  • Gaining a better understanding of the behaviour of elderly people with mental health problems, and developing better coping strategies, in situations in which members of staff are unable to act (prevention of and dealing with misunderstood behaviour or problematic behaviour). 

Gaining insight into these issues helps both healthcare providers and clients to take the best possible action in their own environment and have a meaningful day. The client system and family members remain part of the client’s environment, both if the client lives at home and or if he or she resides in a facility. Patients therefore continue to be part of and participate within their own network. The knowledge provided by the associate professorship allows care providers to adapt their behaviour, take appropriate action, support clients and the client system/family members, as well as affect the behaviour of the client in the case of misunderstood or problematic behaviour. 


  • Noorderbreedte research 
    The associate professor is the chair of the Noorderbreedte scientific research committee and the research leader of Noorderbreedte. 

  • Research group Health and Welfare
    The associate professor is affiliated with the Health & Innovation in Psychiatry professorship. Collaboration takes place with other professorships within the Health and Well-being research group. In particular, partnerships exists with the following professorships: 

  • Talma professorship in Living, Well-being and Old-Age care with professor Evelyn Finnema 
    The associate professor acts as a bridge between the Healthcare & Innovation in Psychiatry professorship and the Talma professorship 

  • Digital Innovation in Healthcare with professor Job van ‘t Veer. 

  • Faith  
    Within Faith, the associate professor holds the position of Quality Work package leader. Faith research is a learning community in the Northern Netherlands that develops, connects and implements knowledge in respect of vulnerable people. 

  • University Network for Geriatric Care-UMCG 
    Through Noorderbreedte, the associate professor participates in the University Network for Geriatric Care (UNO-UMCG). 

  • Korsakoff Knowledge Centre (KKC)  
    At the national Korsakoff Knowledge Centre (KKC), the associate professor takes part in the National Consultation Group on Korsakoff Research (LOKO). 

  • National Knowledge Centre for Geriatric Psychiatry (NKOP)  
    Within the national knowledge network for Geriatric Psychiatry, the associate professor takes part in the Knowledge Development and Sharing working group, initiating scientific research for the benefit of the geriatric psychology target group network. 

  • Topcare 
    Topcare is a network of centres of expertise in geriatric care. Research is a key part of this initiative in order to achieve continuous quality improvement. There are close ties between Topcare and the centres of expertise. 

  • Healthcare and well-being organisations 
    For the purpose of conducting applied research, we work with several healthcare and welfare organisations within different sectors.


The associate professorship consists of the associate professor as well as lecturers, researchers and students from various degree programmes. Partners from professional practice also actively participate in the associate professorship. As a result, the associate professorship can rely on a diverse foundation of knowledge and experience, on the basis of which everyone is able to pursue the issues of the associate professorship in their own way. 


  • Dr Gea van Dijk, associate professor


If you have any questions or want to find out more about the associate professorship Elderly people with mental health problems, please get in touch. 

Associate professor
Dr. Gea C. van Dijk
06 20 61 19 66

Margriet Dijkstra
06 28 31 70 08

Sustainable Development Goals

This professorship contributes to...