Mental health is a growing concern for American farmers. These workers are at an increased risk of developing stress-related health issues, and they’re also more likely to commit suicide than the average citizen. In honor of this year’s National Farm Safety and Health Week (September 15 to 21), here’s some important information about the issue.
Mental health issues increase the likelihood of injuries and fatal accidents in an already dangerous workplace. Here are some of the factors that put farmers at risk.
• Long hours. Farmers are often forced to work long hours, leading to poor sleep hygiene. Lack of rest often exacerbates stress in addition to disrupting the ability to focus.
• Uncertainty. Farmers are at the mercy of increasingly unpredictable weather. In addition, fluctuating commodity prices mean that even a strong harvest doesn’t guarantee a profit will be made.
Financial uncertainty is becoming a big problem. The USDA reports that the U.S. farm debt relative to income is the highest it’s been in three decades.
• Lack of resources. Farmers need help, but there’s a lack of accessible resources. In addition, they’re unlikely to seek out the help they need, in part because of the stigma attached to mental health issues in the farming community.
While there are resources available like Farm Aid’s hotline — it saw a 109 percent increase in call volume in 2018 — there isn’t enough funding to provide concrete help to farmers.
What can be done
Awareness campaigns have sought to change the mindset around mental health in farming communities. Eliminating the stigma attached to asking for help is an important step in improving the situation. Public education about the challenges farmers face could also help raise awareness about the importance of this issue.
If you or someone you know is facing a crisis, visit the National Farmers Union Crisis Center at farmcrisis.nfu.org.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you or someone you know is in distress, call 1-800-273-8255.
10 healthy habits for a longer life
Did you know that lifestyle choices have significantly more influence on longevity than genetics? Often, the habits you need to implement to live a longer, more satisfying life are easy to adopt.
1. Don’t smoke. Smoking contributes to numerous severe and potentially fatal health problems.
2. Stay active. Older adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity every week. In addition, regularly stretching helps maintain mobility and prevent falls.
3. Keep learning. Challenge your mind with problem-solving activities and puzzles. This will reduce the risk of dementia and improve cognition.
4. Eat healthy. Your diet should be rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Avoid overeating, opt for plant proteins and eliminate saturated and trans fats.
5. Get outside. Sunshine is good for your mood and your health. Being outdoors also encourages you to be more active.
6. Sleep well. Seven to eight hours of quality sleep every night is crucial for regulating cell function and healing your body.
7. Build friendships. A strong social network helps prevent depression, loneliness and cognitive decline.
8. Be proactive. Regular screenings and preventive care will help your doctor diagnose and manage or treat diseases early.
9. Brush and floss. Poor oral hygiene can lead to mouth cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily and visit your dentist regularly.
10. Mitigate stress. Stress and anxiety increase the likelihood of heart disease and stroke. Counter these risks with optimism and laughter.
Many of these habits have multiple payoffs, meaning a few healthy choices allow you to reap substantial benefits and enhance the quality and length of your life.
Controlling cancer through screening
Cancer Control Month takes place every year in April, and the occasion serves as an opportunity to take note of the fact that cancer screening saves lives. To help you advocate for your health and that of your friends and family members, here’s a timeline of when various types of cancer should first be screened for.
Cervical cancer: age 21
Women aged 21 to 65 should get a Pap smear every three years. Starting when they turn 30, they should also get an HPV test every five years. Women over 65 who had normal results over the last 10 years can forgo further testing.
Cervical cancer is highly treatable when caught early, making screening for it extremely important.
Breast cancer: age 50
According to the American College of Physicians, women with no increased risk for breast cancer should get a screening mammogram every two years starting at age 50 until age 75. However, women between the ages of 40 and 49 may elect to undergo screening after discussing the pros and cons with their doctor.
Breast cancer is by far the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. While survival rates are improving for all stages, the earlier it’s caught, the easier it is to treat.
Colorectal cancer: age 50
While people with early-stage colorectal cancer have a survival rate of 90 percent, the prognosis isn’t as good for symptomatic cancers, which are usually quite advanced.
For people with average risk, a first colonoscopy at 50 years old is recommended, with follow-up exams depending on the results. Earlier screening is recommended for people with increased risk, such as those who are of African-American descent, those with a family history or those with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
Prostate cancer: age 50
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men. Detected early, the survival rate is nearly 100 percent.
However, research suggests there may be more downsides than upsides to getting tested regularly. For this reason, it’s recommended that men who are about to turn 50 have a discussion about prostate cancer screening with their doctor to determine whether they’re at high risk and whether screening would be beneficial.
Lung cancer: age 55
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, it’s very treatable if caught early. The problem is that over 80 percent of lung cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage.
Current smokers, as well as former heavy smokers, aged 55 to 80, should be screened with a low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan.
Cancer screening saves lives, so don’t hesitate to remind friends and relatives to get tested.
People of all ages can develop skin cancer. Talk to your doctor to determine your risk factors and to schedule regular skin exams.
What are dental crowns made of?
Dental crowns are used to restore the shape, appearance and function of damaged teeth. They can be made of one of several different materials, and each has its own pros and cons. Here’s what you should know about the various options.
• Metal alloy. These dental crowns last the longest and rarely chip or break. However, because of their color, they’re not considered suitable for teeth that are visible when talking or smiling. The type of metals in the alloy can include gold, platinum, chromium, nickel or others.
• Porcelain. These are ideal for front teeth because they can be tinted to precisely match the color of your existing teeth. On the other hand, they’re less durable than other types of dental crowns and are more likely to chip or crack.
• Composite. These also look very natural, and while they won’t chip as easily as porcelain, they tend to get worn down by chewing and brushing. They’re also more likely to stain.
• Porcelain fused to metal. These crowns combine the strength of metal and the look of porcelain. However, the porcelain can chip and consequently expose the metal. Additionally, if the gums are thin or recede the metal will show along the gum line.
When properly taken care of, dental crowns can last for up to 10 years. Be sure to brush twice a day, floss regularly and visit your dentist twice a year.
Sea salt vs. table salt: which is healthier?
If you think you’re making a healthier choice by sprinkling sea salt on your food instead of regular old table salt, think again.
Any type of salt, be it kosher salt, celery salt, garlic salt, table salt or pink Himalayan salt, contains the same amount of sodium, which is to blame for an increased risk of hypertension, cardiovascular events and kidney disease.
The only healthier choice when it comes to salt is to avoid consuming it in excess.
North Americans eat nearly 3,400 milligrams of salt a day, more than twice the recommended amount. Using more herbs and spices to season food is a good way to cut down on sodium.
4 easy ways to raise awareness about autism
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties with social interactions, problems with speech and communication and issues with repetitive behaviors. However, no two people on the spectrum are the same.
In honor of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, here’s how you can help people in your community better understand autism.
1. Get informed
Ensuring you’re well-informed about autism is probably the most important thing you can do. This is because misunderstanding the behavior of someone with autism can lead to very difficult situations and reinforce negative perceptions. Lack of accurate information can also lead to well-meaning people causing more harm than good.
2. Use social media
Sharing accurate information and articles is a good way to raise awareness about autism. Plus, if you or someone you know is on the spectrum, sharing a personal story can help people understand what it’s like to live with autism, and may inspire others to share their own experiences. Just make sure you respect the privacy of everyone involved.
3. Attend events
Organizations that support people with ASD tend to host fundraisers and walks. Attending or volunteering at these types of events is a good way to show your support and help raise awareness in your community.
4. Include them
Simply including people with ASD in your everyday activities can make a big impact and help raise awareness. It’s a common misconception that people with autism don’t want to make friends. While some do struggle to form relationships, most of them enjoy interacting with other people.
Keep in mind that though it’s a good idea to raise awareness for World Autism Awareness Day, these are things you can do year-round.
The benefits of gardening
Aging shouldn’t stop you from cultivating your interests. Whether you’re a long-time gardener or eager to pick up the hobby, here are some of the advantages to gardening as you get older.
Gardening is a form of aerobic exercise that strengthens major muscle groups and improves mobility. It also encourages you to spend more time outdoors where you can benefit from the sunshine and fresh air. Tending to a garden reduces stress, promotes relaxation and instills a sense of accomplishment. A vegetable or herb garden also gives you access to fresh, nutritious food.
Gardening can be a collective pastime that allows you to meet new people or spend time with old friends. Studies show that strong social ties increase longevity, lessen cognitive decline and prevent depression among older adults. If you live in a retirement home, inquire about joining or starting a gardening club to connect with residents who share your interests. You can even make gardening a family activity and an opportunity to teach your grandchildren new skills.
A balcony garden or an assortment of houseplants will allow you to continue gardening once you’ve moved from a house to an apartment or retirement home. Many plants can thrive in pots and window boxes. If you’re used to growing a vegetable garden, microgreens can be grown in even a small living space. Also, plants make great roommates — they boost your mood, beautify your home and require little upkeep.
Gardening is an activity that can be done at any age. Find what works for you and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.