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Montana is the oldest state west of the Mississippi, and is growing older as more Montanans enter their senior years. The economic, cultural, and personal impacts of that trend present Montanans with new challenges, and new opportunities for change. Graying Pains, launching in March 2020, is a six-month series of weekly stories and broadcasts exploring how Montanans can improve with age.


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How the world’s oldest nation cares for its elderly

by David Erickson, Missoulian

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 in what looks to be a successful experiment enacted two decades ago to help pay for elder care in Japan?

A rancher uses a bail spreader to feed his cattle on a family ranch outside Boulder, Mont. There are 27,048 farms in Montana, according to the 2017 census of agriculture provided by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Thom Bridge, Independent Record

On-the-farm training

by Brendan Heidner, Glendive Ranger-Review

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 operation as a new producer is difficult. Dawson Community College may have found an answer in the fertile fields of Iowa.

Hugh Spencer, a 68-year-old poultry farmer near Plains, checks on one of his three chicken barns, where he raises about 6,000 chickens for egg production. Thom Bridge / Independent Record
Thom Bridge / Independent Record

Farm to future

by Nolan Lister, Independent Record

With more than half of all ag producers in Montana either past or close to retirement age, family farms face a demographic reckoning.

Montana State University Extension Agent Jane Wolery, near right, leads class participants in seated leg lifts at a session of the StrongPeople class last fall in the Choteau Baptist Church fellowship hall.
Vonnie Jacobson/Choteau Acantha

Aging into independence

by Melody Martinsen, Choteau Acantha

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.