May 13, 2021

Aging in agriculture: Take time to take care of yourself

MADISON, Wis. — Farmers stay working for longer than those in other professions.

As they age, it’s important to make healthy living a priority.

“Aging is the general process of becoming older,” said Averi Olson, doctoral candidate at University of Wisconsin-Madison, during a webinar hosted by AgriSafe.

“Healthy aging comprises adopting healthy habits and behaviors, staying involved in the community, managing health conditions and understanding medications. All of which lead to a productive and meaningful life.”

For farmers, healthy aging means living and working on the farm as long as they can. It also means continuing to do the activities they love.

Although everyone experiences aging differently, common changes include those to the cardiovascular system, muscles, bones and joints, digestive system, memory, vision, hearing and skin.

“Muscles tend to lose their strength, endurance and flexibility, all of which affect our balance and coordination,” Olson said.

The risk for fatal injury increases for farmers starting at age 55. Tractor-related injuries and falls are the main risk factors.

Safety Tips

Dr. Lisa Schiller shared tips to decrease the risk of injury on the farm during a community forum:

• Start prevention efforts early in life.

• Use regular health care and screening.

• Practice good nutrition and exercise.

• Have good lighting and handrails in work and walking areas.

• Moderate alcohol.

• Maintain social connections.

• Install rollover protection structures and wear seatbelts.

• Make time for sufficient rest.

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor