Health Farmer With Diabetes Maintains Farm And Health

  • Greenstein, Doreen B.;
  • Miner, Naomi

If a farm family member has work restrictions because of an illness or disability -- call on FarmAbility. FarmAbility is a Cornell Cooperative Extension project that provides services to people with disabilities or chronic health conditions that limit their day-to-day activities. We work with men, women, and children who live or work on farms, or who are involved in other agricultural activities.

Here is how a farmer with diabetes mellitus takes care of himself as he takes care of daily chores.

Pete needs to take his diabetes into consideration as he does his farming tasks.

Diabetes can decrease his endurance and physical tolerance. Pete finds that some times he fatigues easily. Pete has learned to use work simplification techniques taught to him by his health care professional to avoid getting over tired. He has reorganized his equipment and tools so that they are located close to where he uses them for each specific task. He thinks through his activities for the day before he starts, and schedules them to allow for the best use of his time and energy.

Pete has noticed changes in his sense of touch and circulation over the years. He is careful to compensate for the loss of sensation in his hands and feet by using his other senses. Also, he wears gloves and boots that fit properly to prevent injury and protect his skin.

He tried not to expose his hands or his feet to temperature extremes. Pete also inspects the skin on his hands and feet every day for cuts or blisters. It is important that he gets appropriate medical attention so that cuts, bruises and other injuries heal properly.

Skin injuries can be decreased by wearing gloves when he is working around rough surfaces. Thoroughly drying his hands after they are exposed to water is important to keep them from getting chapped.

Each day Pete does a special set of hand exercises designed to keep his fingers flexible. If knobs or other controls are hard to operate, he uses foam or other materials to make them larger and easier to grasp. He has found that balls, such as tennis balls, golf balls, or ping-pong balls, can be easily slit or drilled and used as replacement knobs when larger knobs are needed.

Pete is especially careful to report all changes in his vision to his doctor.

Because blood-sugar levels change in relation to Pete's activity level and diet, he always has a source of communication to summon help if he needs it. In the barn he uses an intercom system connected to the house. When he is out doing field work, he uses his C.B. radio to keep in touch. Pete makes sure that his wife, family members, or neighbors know where he will be and arranges for one of them to be within listening distance of the intercom or C.B. radio. By paying attention to his senses and pacing himself during his work, Pete can maintain a successful farming operation and his health.

If you are a farmer or farm family member with chronic illness or another disability, please contact FarmAbility for information and assistance to help you in your everyday farm and homemaking tasks. Our staff can come to your home or farm, assess the problems presented by the illness or disability, and suggest adaptations that can make things easier.

New York farm families can contact FarmAbility by calling (607) 255-1143. Or write to: FarmAbility, 330 Riley-Robb Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

Publication #: 28302451

Naomi Miner and Doreen Greenstein, FarmAbility, Cornell University

Source: Cornell Cooperative Extension, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Provider: Ag Information Services -- News & Publications, Penn State
November 11, 1993

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More