Tea and toast syndrome
Tea and toast syndrome is a form of malnutrition commonly experienced by elderly people who are unable to prepare meals and tend to themselves. Their diets often dwindle to tea and toast resulting in a deficiency of vitamins and other nutrients. The syndrome often manifests itself as hyponatremia, a low concentration of the electrolyte sodium in the bloodstream, due to the lack of salt in the diet.
The syndrome often occurs once children have moved away, and a partner has died or is dying. An elderly person with nobody left to cook for, or without the skills to cook, will revert to a diet of simple foods such as bread, cheese and crackers, and tinned foods. According to the New York Times, as many as 60% of seniors living at home are either malnourished or at risk of becoming malnourished. In addition to the problems lack of nutrients will cause, this state also means that the complications of other illnesses, even the common cold, can be much more severe.
Factors that lead to the syndrome include social isolation, psychological issues such as depression, illness, and physical limitations. Though less of a factor than psychological issues, the increased number of medications often taken by elderly people can also affect eating habits. These medications may suppress appetite, make food taste different, or affect how nutrients are absorbed, making it even less likely seniors will get the required nutrients. Typical laboratory findings for tea and toast syndrome include a low serum osmolality (hypotonicity) with a normal urine osmolality since antidiuretic hormone levels are normal.
- "Senior Citizens Suffer From 'Tea and Toast Syndrome'". prnewswire.com. 28 February 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
- Anderson, Olwen (25 December 2010). "Avoiding the 'tea & toast' syndrome as you age". Retrieved 28 September 2015.
- Myer, Cara (2003). "The Tea and Toast Syndrome: Psychosocial Aspects of Congregate Dining". Generations. 28 (3).