BOULDER – Seniors in Jefferson County are learning more about serious issues that affect their lives thanks to a new grant.

The Montana Geriatric Education Center out of the University of Montana provided $1,000 to bring speakers to Boulder to talk about issues affecting Montana’s aging population.

On Thursday, Saundra Lowry with the Rocky Mountain Development Council’s Area IV Agency on Aging presented facts and statistics about Alzheimer’s and associated dementia’s.

The disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the country and Lowry said that’s especially important for Montana, which has both an aging and rural population. Lowry refers to that aging population as a “silver tsunami.”

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“The baby boomers comprise so much of the population and with the advent of their retirements and their aging, we are seeing more and more the problem of dementia in our society and how we deal with that,” Lowry said.

Lowry also said their aren’t enough caregivers in the state to treat the elderly population. According to the National Rural Health Association, only 10 percent of practicing physicians serve rural areas despite the fact that 25 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas. Even when care is provided, the cost can often be overwhelming.

On average, a senior with dementia pays about $50,000 per year for healthcare, long-term care and hospice compared to a senior without dementia who pays about $15,000 a year.

However, Lowry said one of the best tools to help the problem is through education, like Thursday’s presentation.

On March 22, the Boulder Community Library will host another presentation about care giving and Alzheimer’s.

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