Take Grandma to McDonalds – it’s good for her mental health, is the message from research from the University of Michigan.
Eating at fast food joints is good for older people, the study says. Not because of the hamburgers, because ‘we know that diets high in saturated fat cholesterol are associated with increased risk of cognitive decline,’ said lead author, Dr Jessica Finlay, research fellow at the university’s Institute for Social Research.
But because McDonalds or Burger King and the like are community spaces in which older people can interact, and social interaction beats loneliness and helps cognitive health. It’s known from many studies that feelings of loneliness more than double the risk of dementia, and are as bad for physical and mental health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
The Michigan study found that people living in areas with retail food places had higher cognitive scores than those in neighbourhoods with only a few. Older adults found them familiar and comfortable, as well as places to socialise. They also don’t cost too much. A participant in the study, 75 year old Martha, who lives alone said the local eateries were ‘easy, low-pressure ways to interact with friends and make new social connections.’
It may not be possible during these Covid times, but to making grandma happy (and possibly grandad as well!) take her to a fast food joint. You can always buy a salad and something a little healthier than a cheese burger!