Convicted killers at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo help care for prisoners with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, assisting ailing inmates with the most intimate tasks, such as showering, shaving, applying deodorant, even changing adult diapers, says the New York Times. Dementia in prison is a fast-growing phenomenon that many prisons are unprepared to handle.
Long sentences have created large numbers of aging prisoners. About 10 percent of the 1.6 million U.S. inmates are serving life terms. More older people go to prison: in 2010, 9,560 people 55 and older, more than twice as many as in 1995; inmates 55 and older almost quadrupled, to nearly 125,000, says Human Rights Watch. Experts say prisoners appear more prone to dementia on average because they may have more risk factors: limited education, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, depression, substance abuse, head injuries from violence. Many states call over-50 inmates elderly, saying they age up to 15 years faster.