Graying Pains is a six-month series of weekly stories and broadcasts exploring the challenges and opportunities as Montana grows collectively older in communities statewide. By investigating how other communities have responded to the issues raised by aging, Graying Pains hopes to point the way toward policies and innovations that can help Montana, and Montanans, improve with age. The series is produced by the Montana Fourth Estate Project, a collaboration among 16 Montana newsrooms and the University of Montana School of Journalism under the auspices of the Montana Newspaper Association and the Solutions Journalism Network. See montanafourthestate.org for the collected Graying Pains stories and more information.
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 fulfillment and achievement or it could collapse, a la Shakespeare, into dependence and decrepitude.