Dementia in Rural America

Teresa Olson
By Teresa Olson March 14, 2019 13:25

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Today nearly 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, a form of dementia, and by 2050 this number is estimated to reach nearly 14 million.  Dementia diseases will cost $290 billion in 2019, and by 2050 they may reach just over one trillion.  Consider also, those 16 million caregivers who will give approximately $18.5 billion hours of unpaid care valued at almost $234 billion.

 

These health and financial weights will fall on rural areas where there are substantially higher proportions of elderly people.  It will impact farming businesses, communities, and the rural economy.

 

Not so long ago, a project began in England called “Farming, Dementia and Networks of Care” which will investigate how farmers, their families and careers cope when they are effected by dementia.  The project has three main objectives:

 

  • To consider the impact of dementia on farming businesses
  • To evaluate how dementia affects farming families and communities
  • To consider how voluntary and state agencies can support farming families with dementia

 

You may be experiencing life now with dementia – a loved one or acquaintance. If you aren’t, don’t be too sure that you never will.  Dementias can be caused by brain cell death, and neurodegenerative disease, but it is not known if dementia causes the brain cell death, or the brain cell death causes the dementia.  You’ve heard of the old “chicken and egg” adage, haven’t you?  It’s been said that dementia starts in the brain 30 to 50 years before symptoms appear and certain risk factors are known to be associated with the disease, with age being the biggest predictor.  Other risk factors predictably include a person’s health and lifestyle.  And research confirms that many of the chemicals we’re exposed to in our food, water and air have direct connections to Alzheimer’s.

 

It seems that farmers are right in the middle of this health problem for many reasons.  Your average age is older – 58 years; your work directly affects our food and the environment; your profession ranks as a high-risk-for-injury occupation, sometimes the stress and/or satisfaction of farming plays a role in how you live, and your rural community is the most affected by this devastating disease.

 

So as you begin your activities on the farm again this spring, always remember your safety and health.  Learn more about dementia by visiting www.alz.org and get assessed at your annual wellness visit.  Be part of the process that works to understand and support this important issue in your community.

 

Terry Olson, Titan Outlet Team

 

References:

https://www.alz.org/

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-02-focuses-dementia-farming-rural.html

http://farmwars.info/?p=15461

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/142214.php

 

Teresa Olson
By Teresa Olson March 14, 2019 13:25
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