Farmers are exposed to multiple hazards over a lifetime and physical problems can start early. To maintain health, farmers – average age 57 – must pay attention to issues caused by their way of life as they age.
Falls are one of the leading causes of death. Most falls occur from the same level. Trips and slips are the main danger. Being pushed by a cow, slipping in mud, falling on ice – mundane accidents that occur on the ground can cause injury, especially for an older person.
Farm work routinely exposes farmers to damaging noises. For example, the ear which is turned to the front of the tractor, where the exhaust is loudest, will have greater hearing loss. Hearing loss is cumulative. As farmers age, they may not be able to hear important noises such as approaching machinery, verbal warnings, etc. increasing the danger to them and others.
Farmers are frequently out in the damaging sun. They often don’t use sunscreen and may not practice regular skin self-exams. Many farmers wear baseball-style caps, which expose the tips of the ears and back of the neck. Working without a shirt or in sleeveless tops also increases the risk of sun damage.
Repeated sun exposure from farming accelerates the risk of developing cataracts. Farmers are more likely to develop cataracts at a younger age. They have a high rate of cataracts, largely because they often do not wear protective sunglasses.
Farmers often ignore their own health and safety, adopting a fatalistic view that “it won’t happen to me”. They routinely skip vaccines such as tetanus and infrequently visit doctors.
Risk of suicide
Farmers have the highest suicide rate of any occupation. Farmers are exposed to multifaceted stress and pressure, in addition to hard physical labor and long days.
Bottom line, take care of yourself – others depend on you.