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Missoula Measures - Older Adults


Why this topic?

In 1900, people over 65 constituted 4 percent of the population. In 2000, this proportion is 13 percent, and in 2030 is projected to be 22 percent. People who reach the age of 65 can now expect to live into their 80s.


graph number of older adults Missoula County 2010

U.S. Census

Related Data

The population over age 60, in 2010 US Census:

50% of people in Missoula County over the age of 60 live alone and have annual incomes of less than $10,000. (Report to the Community, Missoula Aging Services, 1999)

Missoula’s growing aging population to some extent reflects older people moving to be near middle-aged sons and daughters and older people from outlying rural areas moving to town to be near services


Missoula Aging Services provides the Meals on Wheels program which delivers 1 meal a day, Monday through Thursday, and 3 meals on Friday (including one for Saturday and one for Sunday) to homebound people, many of whom are elderly. They serve over 500 people a year.

As of July 2011, Missoula had:

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Falls and the elderly

Falls are the most common cause of injuries among senior citizens and are the top reason for a hospital admission for trauma. Advanced age substantially increases the likelihood of hospitalization after a fall. Falls account for 87% of all fractures among people aged 65 years or older.

Fractures in older people heal more slowly than those in younger people.

A lengthy recovery period from fractures or other injuries can cause depression and can severely reduce a person's independence and further reduce mobility, agility, balance and muscle strength.  A program for physical activity appropriate to the limits of the injury is crucial to a full recovery.

Fear of falling may cause a person to reduce his or her level of physical activity which  actually increases the risk of falling.


Healthy People 2020 Target    
  Base Target
Reduce rate of ER visits for falls per 100,000 5235 4711


Brief Background

Challenges for the elderly include

"Many aspects of life change."  Avrene L. Brandt, Ph.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Media, PA -

As adults approach their senior years many aspects of life (physical, social, financial, and employment) are changing. For most seniors, the retirement years are anticipated positively and with an expectation of more leisure time and a lessening of demands and responsibilities. Neither seniors nor their families are adequately prepared for the stresses that also accompany aging. The goal during the senior years then is to maximize the positive and develop strategies for coping with the stresses.

As with anything in life, the discrepancy between what one expects and what actually exists can be a set up for disappointment and frustration. It is therefore important to realistically look at changes which may occur and which may be experienced as losses from life as it was.

To begin with, the aging process brings physical change. Older adults may not feel or look as well as they did. There may be a general slowing down of activity level and cognitive speed. There are also specific losses – of vision, hearing, movement, and memory. Seniors can still do the same things but it can take longer. The changes though, can impact on mobility in terms of going places, driving and pursuing activities.

There are also changes in identity and roles, which accompany retirement. Our jobs typically define much of our identity. Retirement from a job can create a gap and affect self-esteem. It is also not uncommon that seniors are faced with necessary changes in their living situation. Health and safety issues may necessitate a move from a place that was home for many years. There is then a loss of the familiar, of neighbors, of possessions, of a place of worship, and so on. Transitions and losses associated with moving can echo and intensify earlier losses of friends and family through death or through their also moving away.

In addition to the role change that occurs with retirement from a job, gradually, over time, there is a role change that occurs with seniors vis-a-vis their children. Children of adult seniors may begin to take over responsibilities for finances, physical well being, getting places and so forth. Neither senior parents nor their adult children find this role reversal comfortable. For seniors, giving up decision-making and choice is an affront to their self-esteem. For adult children, it may be embarrassing and arouse anxiety to see their parent as dependant and vulnerable. It is a sensitive issue – to know how much to take over and what to leave in the province of a senior parent. For adult children there is also the challenge of balancing their own lives, families, careers and social needs with that of their aging parent. If not handled well, the issue can lead to tension frustration and conflict between adult children and their aging parent.


Related Websites

Missoula Aging Services

Montana 55 - a magazine addressing the challenges and opportunities of aging.  Also has an annual Housing Guide for various levels of assited living.

Links to health data, statistics and information from many national sources.

Healthy People 2020 has extensive background on national public health status of this topic and many others.


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