Farmers at High Risk for Developing Dementia, Study Says

A wide variety of genetic and lifestyle-related factors can contribute to an individual’s risk of developing dementia over the course of their lifetime. However, new research has shown that a certain type of occupation may increase your risk of this disease.

The idea for the study came about when a professor noticed that agricultural workers and people working in forestry or fishing tended to show a lot of the same traits as people with cognitive decline, such as hearing loss, depression, or social isolation. The professor wondered if there was a connection between these symptoms and this particular demographic’s risk of developing some form of dementia.

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The study was conducted at the University of Iowa. Dr. Kanika Arora used data from a previous health and retirement study and learned that farmers and other agricultural workers scored lower on tests of memory, attention, and processing speeds.

The researchers found that people who work long-term in agriculture, forestry, fishing, and similar types of jobs have about a 46 percent higher chance of having dementia than their counterparts in other occupations.

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Dr. Arora believes the results of the study are cause for concern because farmers often work beyond the typical retirement age and don’t seek out any sort of diagnosis for their symptoms before the time they retire, meaning they won’t be able to get early interventions. They may also miss existing symptoms or have a delayed onset of symptoms.

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If you’re an aging person working in agriculture, fishing, or forestry, please consider having yourself evaluated for signs of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. The earlier you’re able to get a diagnosis, the better you’ll be able to manage the condition with treatment.

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