Thursday, May 02, 2013
How Arthritis is affecting our aging farmers and what can be done

Arthritis affects approximately one-third of all adult farm operators and is considered one of the leading causes of disability by customers of the USDA AgrAbility Project. With the average age of the American farmer now above 57, increasingly more farmers will find the tasks difficult to complete. Arthritis is an umbrella term for more than 100 diseases that can affect the joint and surrounding tissue. Common forms of arthritis include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, gout, and fibromyalgia. Arthritis is considered one of the most disabling conditions a farmer can face and is the leading cause of disability of farmers in the Mid-Atlantic area. Arthritis affects approximately one-third of all adult farm operators. As work tasks become more difficult, many farmers and agricultural workers may not even associate the pain with arthritis. Signs and symptoms of arthritis include the following:

  • Persistent pain
  • Stiffness, swelling, redness or heat in the joint
  • Difficulty in moving the joint
  • Possible fatigue, weight loss and nausea
Arthritis is especially detrimental to farmers and farm workers because of the nature of their work. Many farm chores such as mounting tractors, baling hay, feeding livestock, harvesting vegetables, milking cows, operating equipment, cleaning out broiler houses require strength, dexterity, and mobility, which are lessened by the effects of arthritis. According to medical professionals there are benefits of exercise for farmers with arthritis. Exercise can help you manage arthritis pain and reduce the disability as well as increase energy levels, help with sleep and decrease depression and fatigue. Exercise is also considered very important for healthy joints. Moving your joints helps keeps them fully mobile and strengthens the surrounding muscles which help support the joints. Since there is no known cure for arthritis, education and awareness of pain management techniques are considered the best practice for treating the disease. This includes but is not limited to joint protection, work simplification and stress reduction. A few solutions that can be implemented to help control joint stress and pain in farming include the following:
  • Wear quality, non-slip footwear
  • Use appropriate assistive aids such as automatic couplers, mobility devices, hydraulic lift table, shop hoists, powered cordless caulk guns and more
  • Adhere to proper posture when sitting for long periods of time in tractors
  • Use large muscle groups to complete a task. For example use the legs instead of the back to lift.
  • Avoid gripping and grasping for long periods of time.
  • Simplify jobs and tasks
  • Pace yourself throughout the day
For more information on arthritis, visit Mid-Atlantic Agrability online at or visit the Arthritis Foundation at You may also call Mid-Atlantic Agrability toll free at 1-877-204-FARM (3276) for a DVD titled, "Gaining Ground on Arthritis in the Agricultural Workplace" and a brochure titled, "Arthritis and Agriculture."

Springtime Jamboree benefits hospice The 31st Annual Springtime Jamboree which benefits Delaware Hospice, will be held on Friday and Saturday evenings, May 3 and 4, in its new location at Sussex Central High School, 26026 Patriots Way, Georgetown. Pre-show entertainment featuring Ron Howard on Piano begins at 6:30 p.m. and the Country Western and Gospel Musical Program, featuring many local performers, begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 per person before the event or $13 per person at the door. Purchase tickets from Peggy Dolby, 302-519-0859 or, or at the following businesses: Hockers Super Center, 537-1877; G&E Inc., 539-9662; or Hockers Grocery & Deli, 539-0505.

Hospice holds special workshop Delaware Hospice's Family Support Center will hold a "Remembering Our Moms & Grandmothers" Workshop on Saturday, May 4, from 10 a.m. to noon, at the Delaware Hospice Center, 100 Patriots Way, Milford. Especially for adults who have lost a mother or grandmother, this workshop will include activities to facilitate remembering and honoring these individuals. Education and support will also be provided, in a confidential, non-judgmental, casual environment, with others who have experienced a similar loss. A continental breakfast will be offered. Participants are invited to bring a photo of their loved ones for the Remembrance Table. This workshop is provided free to the public by Delaware Hospice; however, registration is required. To register or learn more, contact Vicki Costa, associate director of family support services, at 856-7717, or

Community Health Fair A Community Health Fair will be held on Sunday, May 5 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Union United Methodist Church in Bridgeville. Presenters include Nanticoke Health Services, Nemours Health and Preventive Services, Alzheimer's Association, Senior Companions, Cheer Center of Georgetown and the Lyme Disease Association of the Eastern Shore. Everyone is welcome to attend. For more information, call the church office at 302-337-7409, ext. 16 or Joan Hastings, program director, at 302-423-5682.

Alzheimer's Caregiver Workshop Lofland Park Center at Genesis in Seaford will host an Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Workshop on Wednesday, May 22, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The free workshop will include: "The Basics" presented by Dr. Lawrence Kemp, "Legal and Financial Issues" presented by Michele Procino-Wells, Esq., "Behaviors and Communication" presented by Ruth Pryor, geriatric social worker, and Hospice Information presented by Cindy Drew, nurse practitioner for Compassionate Care Hospice. Lunch will be provided and pre-registration is required by May 16. For more information or to register, call Jamie Magee, Sussex County program coordinator, at 854-9788.

CPR classes offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community CPR classes to anyone interested in learning CPR at the Nanticoke Training Center on Water Street in Seaford. Participants will learn how to perform the basic skills of CPR on adults, children, and infants and how to help an adult, child, or infant who is choking and use of the AED. This classroom-based, video, and instructor-led CPR course offers families, friends, and community members the opportunity to learn CPR and need a course completion card. Classes are open to participants ages 12 and up. This program is specifically designed for those who prefer to learn in a group environment with feedback from an instructor. The target audience is those who have a duty to respond to a cardiac emergency because of job responsibilities or regulatory requirements. Cost is $45. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations may be accepted if seating is available. To register and to obtain a listing of class dates/times, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.

Journaling workshop Delaware Hospice invites anyone coping with a loss to a "Write Your Heart Out" journaling workshop from 5 to 6:30 p.m., on Thursday, May 9, at the Delaware Hospice Millsboro office, 315 Old Landing Rd., Millsboro. The workshop will focus on examining your grief journey through this safe, non-judgmental and therapeutic activity of journaling. There is no charge to attend but registration is required as space is limited. To register, contact Midge DiNatale, bereavement counselor, by May 6, at or 302-416-0581.

Asthma Awareness Day is May 11 The American Lung Association in Delaware, Bayhealth Medical Center, and Nemours Health and Prevention Services will host a carnival-themed asthma awareness day, "Asthma Under the Big Top," on Saturday, May 11, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., in Pavilions I & II at Bayhealth Kent General Hospital in Dover. Snacks and beverages will be provided. Families, children and caregivers are encouraged to attend this free event. To register or for more information, contact Nicole Goldsboro at 302-737-6414, ext. 16 or

Alzheimer's Caregiver Support Group Cadia Rehab Renaissance near Millsboro is hosting and facilitating an Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Support Group that meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. All meetings are open to the public and interested parties are invited to attend. Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. One person out of eight who reaches the age of 65 will develop Alzheimer's, as will one person out of every two who reaches the age of 85.

2013 Walk MS dates The Delaware Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has announced the 2013 Walk MS dates and is inviting all Delawareans to join the movement. Each year thousands of loved ones, friends, and neighbors throughout Delaware from Wilmington's Riverfront to Sussex County's Baywood Greens lace up and step out in solidarity, with hopes of creating a world free of MS. Last year, over a quarter million dollars was raised to help out the 1,550 Delawareans living with multiple sclerosis. The Twilight at Heritage Shores walk in Bridgeville will be held on May 31 and the walk at Baywood Greens will be held on June 7. To register, visit or call 302-655-5610.

Secretary Landgraf to speak A keynote address by Delaware Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf highlights the annual Families in Crisis Conference (FICC), "It Takes a Village," on Friday, May 3, at the Ellendale Fire Hall. The sixth Ray Lloyd Memorial Award will also be awarded. To nominate someone, or for more information on the award, call Carol Hall at 670-1216. For more information about the conference including scholarships and registration, contact secretary/treasurer, Betty Metzler at 628-4896 or

ALS Walk at Laurel Middle The Laurel Middle School Chapter of the National Junior Honor Society is hosting its 5th Annual ALS - Lou Gehrig's Disease Walk on Saturday, May 18. This is a one hour walk that can be done any time between 9 and 11 a.m. The walk will be held in front of Laurel Middle School. There is a $25 registration fee and walkers are encouraged to form teams. The goal is for each team to raise at least $50. The top three teams raising the most money will receive awards. Come walk in honor or memory of someone affected by ALS. All proceeds go to the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the ALS Association. For more information and to register your team, contact Amy Handy or Kim Ralph at Laurel Middle School, 875-6110.