Health Status of Kentucky’s Senior Farmers

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CONFERENCE: Posters-at-the-Capitol

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Introduction: Kentucky is home to 76,064 farms that exceed five billion dollars in sales per year. For farmers, health is the ability to work and the culture of farming regards this work as a lifestyle. Farming is a hazardous occupation and farmers age 55 and over suffer the highest fatality rates. The average age of a Kentucky farmer is 58. The bulk of past research has focused on farm injuries while less is known about the health status of senior farmers. Our purpose was to better understand the health risks that Kentucky farmers age 50 and over face so healthcare needs can be better met. Our objective was to present a portrait of senior Kentucky farm couples’ health. The methods used were a Secondary analysis of a telephone based survey to a cohort of 1,216 farmers and their spouses in Kentucky. Descriptive statistics and chi-square analysis was used. The results showed the average age of participants was 65. The average number of reported health conditions was 3.2. Overall, the leading health conditions were arthritis (44%), hypertension (44%), back problems (27%), hearing problems (20%), vision problems (19%), cataracts (17%), and heart conditions (17%). Of these health conditions, females reported higher prevalence of arthritis and cataracts; males reported higher prevalence of hearing problems and heart conditions (p<.05). Twenty-two percent of males reported prostate problems. Our conclusion was that Farmers continue to work despite age and chronic health conditions. These findings can support health care tailored to the Kentucky farm population.