Via the University of Michigan Press Office:
When you think of fast food, you don’t normally think of good health, but places such as the Golden Arches and neighborhood cafes may provide a small cognitive benefit to older adults during their golden years. A University of Michigan study has found that older adults’ regular visits to eateries such as fast food restaurants and coffee shops may be as protective of cognitive health as marriage. The work is published in the journal Health and Place. Lead author Jessica Finlay and colleagues interviewed 125 older adults ages 55-92 in the Minneapolis metro area and accompanied them on visits to their neighborhood haunts. Through analysis of her interviews, they found that older adults valued these types of eateries as places of familiarity and comfort; places that were physically and economically accessible; and places to socialize with family, friends, staff and customers. Finlay’s research at U-M focuses on how neighborhoods may help buffer against or increase risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. She hypothesized that regular socialization and leisure activities anchored in these places might be linked to cognitive health.