Walking and talking dangerous for seniors.

Older people find multi-tasking more difficult than younger ones, researchers have found, so those who “walk and talk” across a road could be putting themselves at greater risk.


Psychologists at the University of Illinois’s Beckman Institute in the US found it took people aged 59 to 81 “significantly longer than college students to cross a simulated street while talking on a mobile”.

In a series of tests which looked at a range of distractions while crossing the road, including listening to music and talking on a mobile phone using a hands-free kit, the older volunteers were “significantly impaired” when it came to getting across a busy road safely.

By comparison, the student “showed no impairment on dual-task performance”, the researchers said.

Mark Neider, a postdoctoral researcher who conducted the study with Prof Art Kramer of the institute, said: “Combined with our previous work, the current findings suggest that while all pedestrians should exercise caution when attempting to cross a street while conversing on a cell phone, older adults should be particularly careful.”

However, he added that young people were not immune from the dangers of listening to music or talking on the phone while crossing the road.

“It should be noted that we have previously found that younger adults show similar performance decrements, but under much more challenging crossing conditions,” he said.

The results of the study are published in the journal Psychology and Aging.

Via Telegraph