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Study Finds That Just Two Alcoholic Drinks Slow Seniors’ Reactions

Posted in Research

New research finds that just two drinks were enough to make seniors have difficulty avoiding obstacles while walking, suggesting that blood alcohol levels below the legal limit for driving have a significant effect on dexterity.

Judith Hegeman and a team of researchers from Sint Maartenskliniek, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, tested 13 healthy adults with an average age of 61 to 62. The participants were first asked to walk on a treadmill, and once they had gained a steady walking pace, a wooden block was placed at the far end of the belt of the treadmill and moved toward the participant. The researchers measured how capable the participants were of stepping over the wooden block after drinking alcohol.

They found that after two drinks, participants were twice as likely to hit the wooden block, meaning that response times were delayed. The changes were most apparent in situations with little response time available, which is common in many driving situations.

Hegeman concluded that their study found that alcohol levels considered to be safe for driving significantly affect a person’s ability to avoid sudden obstacles in their path. She noted that although the sample size of the study was small, the outcome was unequivocal.

Source: Science Daily, Just Two Drinks Slow Reactions in Older People, Research Shows, September 22, 2010