News / Graying Pains


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  • Telemedicine and bridging Montana's digital divide

    Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press|Sep 3, 2020

    When COVID-19 safety protocols shifted whole sectors of the health care industry from in-person visits to a telehealth model, Arjun and Hannah Verma watched their parents - a pulmonologist and a cardiologist - fret about some of their elderly patients who were unprepared for the switch. The elder Vermas were concerned that their patients who didn't own camera-enabled devices or know how to use videoconferencing platforms would be forced to forgo critical care. Arjun and Hannah, who live in...

  • Aligning with national network increases mobility and decreases social isolation

    Juliana Sukut, Billings Gazette|Aug 27, 2020

    Carbon County is mostly rural. Coupled with its older population, and considering the current pandemic, social isolation worries Therese Picasso-Edwards. "[Seniors] just didn't feel that they are in the county-wide loop," Picasso-Edwards, the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation program director, said. Carbon County has been working to increase mobility for senior citizens and decrease social isolation after it joined a nationwide age-friendly initiative. The county is one of two localities in...

  • Passing the volunteer torch

    James Walling, Northern Plains Independent|Aug 20, 2020

    As longtime volunteers grow older, many want to take a step back to allow for more travel and leisure time. What will volunteer organizations do to fill the void, and how can we keep older volunteers active? Many communities are struggling to find an answer. Wolf Point's Clint and Arlyss Long have been at the head of a small army of volunteers behind the Wild Horse Stampede, the oldest continuous rodeo in the state of Montana, for nearly 40 years. Along with the many challenges experienced...

  • Changing attitudes key to addressing ageism

    Kathy Beeks, Valley Journal|Aug 13, 2020

    Who's getting older? We all are. Yet denial, misinformation and fear often characterize this universal experience. One hundred years ago life expectancy was about 47 years. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by 2050 one in five Americans will be 65 or older. Lengthening lifespans require a more informed and positive approach to aging, both for individuals and society. Ann Karpf, British author of "How We Age," said, "Each time we see an older person, we ne...

  • A home of their own

    David Erickson, Missoulian|Aug 6, 2020

    Could senior cooperative housing, a model gaining popularity in states with aging populations, be the solution to alleviating social isolation and population loss in Montana's rural small towns? In Montana's rural counties, where demographic trends show large numbers of young people leaving for the state's fast-growing urban areas, the need for elderly housing solutions is going to become increasingly important. These communities are losing population and growing older. But many seniors in...

  • Making the connection

    Keely Larson, The Madisonian|Jul 30, 2020

    It is not hard to associate aging adults with limited technological knowledge, nor is it difficult to understand that teens can jump onto a new device with ease. And anyone can understand that tech support in the form of automated chats or lengthy phone calls can lead to more stress than solutions. "Do we really need any more apps in the world right now?" Trish Lopez asked herself as she listened to other people pitch at a startup incubator in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2015. Lopez's own contrib...

  • Building community from the inside

    Andi Bourne, Pathfinder|Jul 23, 2020

    "His mobile home was not livable," said Missoula Aging Services (MAS) Resource Specialist Linda Howard, about a client she worked with in Seeley Lake. This was not a problem Howard or MAS had the resources to address directly, but she knew people who did. With the help of a local church, community service organizations and neighbors, the client was moved into a new mobile home at no cost to him. This story is not unique in Montana, where neighbors help neighbors and communities take care of...

  • Cracking the transportation bottleneck

    John Blogett, Boulder Monitor|Jul 16, 2020

    In 2010, the Whitehall Senior Center, an activity and meals hub for seniors in Whitehall, was trying to unload a bus and a van it had been using to transport its patrons and residents of a nearby assisted-living home. The Montana Department of Transportation had designated the center that area's agency to provide state-funded public transportation for seniors and people with disabilities. But the center was finding the state's reporting system and other requirements too cumbersome. Dick Gustin,...

  • Could a Japanese-style elder care insurance program work in Montana?

    Dave Erickson, Missoulian|Jul 9, 2020

    Last week in Graying Pains, the Missoulian's David Erickson examined the introduction and implementation of Kaigo Hoken, or care insurance, in Japan, the world's demographically oldest country. This week's conclusion of that story explores how a similar policy might translate to Montana, the oldest state in the American West. A full 13% of Montanans are in their 60s, and the "baby boomer" generation is nearing or entering retirement age. Care for the elderly will become an increasingly pressing...

  • Japan: A glimpse at Montana's future?

    Dave Erickson, Missoulian|Jul 2, 2020

    This is part 1 of a two-part story about financing elder care in aging populations. Part 2 - what new strategies could Montana explore? - will be published next week. Montana, the oldest state in the western United States, faces many of the same problems as Japan, the world's oldest country. Might there be solutions for Montana from what looks to be a successful experiment enacted two decades ago to help pay for elder care in Japan? On April 1, 2000, a new law in Japan began the world's largest...

  • On-the-farm training

    Brendan Heidner, Glendive Ranger-Review|Jun 25, 2020

    Last week's Graying Pains story explored the challenges of family farm succession as Montana's agricultural demographic ages, and a program designed to connect up-and-coming farmers in western Montana. This week's installment explores the same issue - and a community college proposal to address it - near the state's eastern border. * * * * * GLENDIVE - Not everyone who is interested in agriculture grows up on a farm, and without the skills and experience, finding your way into a family farm...

  • Family farms and ranches face uncertain future as producers age out

    Nolan Lister, Independent Record|Jun 18, 2020
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    The 68-year-old old poultry farmer pointed out the hen houses he built decades ago, providing details of each wooden tenement's residents. Hugh Spencer built the hen houses and accompanying grain bins, which look like high-density housing for chickens, shortly after he and his wife Viki purchased the land in 1981. Spencer's 48-week-old hens are kept in the northernmost house. The pullets (or young hens) are kept in the center house. The veteran, 90-week-old hens huddle together in the southernmo...

  • Low-cost classes can help seniors stay fit

    Meloday Martinsen, Choteau Acantha|Jun 11, 2020

    As Montana's aging population continues to grow (18.9% of Montanans are now 65 or older), rural residents face the same aging challenges as their urban counterparts but often with fewer resources. A low-cost, high-benefit strength-training program offered through Montana State University Extension may be one solution for how seniors living in small towns can access a fitness program that will help them age well. The StrongPeople program helps participants of any age increase their joint flexibil...

  • Bringing knowledge and comfort to the classroom

    Andi Bourne, Pathfinder|Jun 4, 2020

    SEELEY LAKE - "Don't bring in a rocker - I don't need those kinds of things," Pearl Hawkins told Seeley Lake Elementary preschool teacher Sheila Devins on her first day as a foster grandparent. "I'm going to get down in the beanbags with the kids." Sixteen years later, "Grandma Pearl," nearly 78, is the longest-serving foster grandparent in Missoula County, having volunteered more than 17,400 hours in the preschool classroom. Hawkins laughed when she said she missed her calling as a preschool...

  • Statewide project on aging demographics to relaunch

    Brad Tyer, Montana Fre|May 28, 2020

    On March 12, a collaboration of 16 Montana newsrooms launched the first story of a series titled Graying Pains, months in the making, exploring Montana's status as the demographically oldest state west of the Mississippi. The next day, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced the state's first four documented cases of COVID-19. If you read, watch or listen to Montana media, you know what happened next. The collaborating newsrooms responded by doing what newsrooms do best, immediately dispatching...

  • For rural elderly, it can take a village

    Keith Hammonds, Boulder Monitor. Additional reporting by Myers Reece, Flathead Beacon|May 28, 2020

    It looked like a lot of senior gatherings: a chatty group of folks, mostly in their 70s and 80s, with friends and family in a church basement, dining on quiche, pastries, fresh fruit and other goodies. There was plenty of laughter and a strong sense of camaraderie. But there was something special happening on a January morning at Kalispell's First Presbyterian Church. This was a celebration by volunteers and members of the recently launched My Glacier Village, Montana's first and only chapter...

  • How, where and why Montana became the grayest state in the West

    Eric Dietrich and Brad Tyer, Montana Free Press|Mar 12, 2020

    People have been parsing the human lifespan into a taxonomy of ages forever. Aristotle proposed three categories: youthful, prime of life and elderly. Two thousand years later, Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man carved human chronology into seven slices, with the body's final frailty circling back to the original oblivion of infancy. And in the 1980's, British historian Peter Laslett proposed a revised map of three ages, with a caveat for the third: it could be a time of post-retirement...

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