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BMC Public Health. 2012; 12: 558.
Published online 2012 July 27. doi:  10.1186/1471-2458-12-558
PMCID: PMC3413609

Health and aging in elderly farmers: the AMI cohort

Abstract

Background

The health of the agricultural population has been previously explored, particularly in relation to the farming exposures and among professionally active individuals. However, few studies specifically focused on health and aging among elders retired from agriculture. Yet, this population faces the long-term effects of occupational exposures and multiple difficulties related to living and aging in rural area (limited access to shops, services, and practitioners). However, these difficulties may be counter-balanced by advantages related to healthier lifestyle, richer social support and better living environment. The general aim of the AMI cohort was to study health and aging in elderly farmers living in rural area through a multidisciplinary approach, with a main focus on dementia.

Methods/design

The study initially included 1 002 participants, randomly selected from the Farmer Health Insurance rolls. Selection criteria were: being 65 years and older; living in rural area in Gironde (South-Western France); being retired from agriculture after at least 20 years of activity and being affiliated to the Health Insurance under own name. The study started in 2007, with two follow-up visits over 5 years. Baseline visits were conducted at home by a neuropsychologist then by a geriatrician for all cases suspected of dementia, Parkinson’s disease and depression (to confirm the diagnosis), and by a nurse for others. A large panel of data were collected through standardised questionnaires: complete neuropsychological assessment, material and social living environment, psychological transition to retirement, lifestyle (smoking, alcohol and diet), medications, disability in daily living, sensory impairments and some clinical measures (blood pressure, depression symptomatology, anxiety, visual test, anthropometry…). A blood sampling was performed with biological measurements and constitution of a biological bank, including DNA. Brain MRI were also performed on 316 of the participants. Finally, the three-year data on health-related reimbursements were extracted from the Health System database (medications, medical and paramedical consultations, biological examinations and medical devices), and the registered Long-Term Diseases (30 chronic diseases 100% covered by the Insurance System).

Discussion

AMI is the first French longitudinal study on health and aging set up in a population of elderly farmers living in rural area through a multidisciplinary approach.

Keywords: Aging, Rural health, Agriculture, Cohort studies, Interdisciplinary studies

Articles from BMC Public Health are provided here courtesy of BioMed Central