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The number of older inmates is increasing, not only due to life expectancy changes but also due to the hardening of prison sentences in many jurisdictions.
However, little research has been generated regarding the health needs of these inmates and what services they require.
Information on their health problems and needs is key so that prison and health services managers can plan to provide a standard of care equivalent to that available in the community. Most prison programmes are developed for younger prisoners and their needs, and seldom older inmates are considered.
Chronic and multiple heart problems, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, among others, are common problems in this population. Their physical mobility and special diet, among other needs should be attended in order to assure their well-being.
Victimization is a serious problem for this group, and prison overcrowding worsens the issue. Elderly inmates suffer not only from the impact of imprisonment, but also from the impact of overcrowding penitentiary systems and lack of resources.
At IPS, we carry out policy and strategies development to address the needs of this group, knowing that adequate care of older inmates requires additional financing and human resources.