Accidents involving farmers over 55 years of age account for 55 per cent of farm deaths, according to the IFA. The majority of these fatal accidents were caused by tractors/machinery, livestock and falls from height. During Farm Safety Week, the IFA is challenging older farmers to think about ways they can improve their health and safety.
IFA President Joe Healy said: “Unfortunately, we can’t stay young forever and we have to recognise that ageing does affect not just our mobility and strength but also our hearing and eyesight. This places older farmers at an increased risk of accident on the farm.
“We are encouraging older farmers to recognise their limitations, examine their work practices and to make sure to ask for help when they need it. We’re also highlighting the importance of getting regular health, hearing and eyesight checks so you can identify any issues and take steps to address them or to change how you work on the farm in light of them.”
IFA has partnered with Hidden Hearing to encourage farm families to avail of free hearing checks for anyone over the age of 50.
Of all the senses, hearing fundamentally affects quality of life and has important health and safety implications, according to Hidden Hearing CEO Stephen Leddy, who says that over half the population aged between 60 and 80 are likely to have measurable hearing loss.
“Hearing loss is a simple fact of life, as we age. But, hearing facilitates communication and social interaction, supporting our relationships and daily activities, and it means we can be alerted to danger and more conscious of it”, Stephen Leddy explains.
As part of Farm Safety Week, Hidden Hearing is encouraging all over 50s to book a free hearing check-up. Free earwax removal is also offered by the leading hearing healthcare provider.
Farmers can also avail of an exclusive 15 per cent discount on any hearing devices that may be required, if they book an appointment at any Hidden Hearing branch before the end of August 2018 and mention the Farm Safety week promotion when booking.
Recent research by Hidden Hearing at agricultural shows indicated that a third of farmers admitted to hearing loss and ringing in their ears as a problem. But further investigation actually showed that inability to hear conversations and background noise meant the problem was actually more widespread.
Worryingly, one in four farmers also admitted to never wearing ear protection in noisy farm environments.
Excessive noise exposure is a hazard on farms and can damage hearing over the years, so it is important to check for hearing loss that can place farmers at increased risk of accident, the hearing specialists say.
“If you have to raise your voice to be heard by someone within an arm’s length, the noise levels could be a serious risk to your hearing. In that situation you should reduce the noise or remove yourself from the noisy area at frequent intervals if you can. Ideally, help prevent hearing loss by using earplugs or other ear protection”, Stephen Leddy advises.
Needing to turn up the TV or radio volume, feeling that people are mumbling more, and having to ask for things to be repeated are the first obvious signs of hearing loss.
Long-established Hidden Hearing branches countrywide can offer help and advice in a supportive environment, including detail of grants for medical card holders, tax relief and PRSI treatment benefits.
In Ireland, over three-quarters of hearing loss is untreated*, for various reasons, but the sooner a problem is diagnosed, the more effective treatment can be.
Just like teeth or eyes, a hearing check-up every year or two, as we age, promotes our safety and helps prevent the knock-on ill health effects of hearing loss that can include social isolation, depression, dementia, diminished heart health and stroke.