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Prisons Not Geared to the Needs of the Elderly, Study Finds

http://fconline.fdncenter.org/pnd/10000157/story

By 2022, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will incarcerate about thirty thousand elders — individuals who, while they represent the smallest threat to public safety among the prison population, cost the most to imprison, a new report from Legal Services for Prisoners with Children ( http://prisonerswithchildren.org/ ) finds.

Funded by the Los Angeles-based California Endowment, Dignity Denied: the Price of Imprisoning Older Women in California documents the conditions of confinement for the more than three hundred and fifty women over the age of fifty-five in state prisons. According to the report, the “Three Strikes” law and a reluctance to grant parole have left more Californians growing older in prison than ever before. Moreover, health-related expenses push the estimated annual cost of imprisoning an older person to at least $70,000, twice that of a younger prisoner.

The authors of the report further assert that prisons aren’t geared to the needs and vulnerabilities of older people and that their continued incarceration raises fundamental questions of how society treats elders. While many aging prisoners share the same challenges faced by elders in the outside community — bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom — prison policies and everyday routines present unique problems, such as undressing for strip searches, getting assigned to difficult-to-reach top bunks, fighting over limited laundry slots, and waiting in long lines to receive medication. Many older prisoners also report feeling unsafe in their cells and experience difficulties getting help during emergencies.

In an effort to reduce the number of older prisoners, the report recommends the early release of elderly prisoners and supports policy changes to improve prison conditions.

To read or download the complete report (81 pages, PDF), visit: http://fconline.fdncenter.org/pnd/10000156/report/download

“New Report Calls for Early Release of Elderly Prisoners.” Legal Services for Prisoners With Children Press Release 12/15/05.

http://fconline.fdncenter.org/pnd/10000157/story

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Liz Taylor takes comments

One of the best reads ever on aging deliberately is Liz Taylor–
Her series has been mentioned previously –

I just discovered that the columns published at Kitsap Sun Stories: Liz Taylor: Aging Deliberately allow comments (registration required) and have an RSS feed . This is so much more convenient and useful than the Seattle Times venue. I’m not sure which is the primary home for Liz’s work, however, and Kitsap may not carry all her columns. At the Seattle Times I have to subscribe by E-mail to their health series (once a week e-mail, all health stories which are interesting) to get notice of her columns. Otherwise I have a Google News Alert for Liz Taylor+ aging, which sometimes brings in notice of National Velvet. [the colors behind some items below mean nothing except straightening out the code remains to be done.]

Liz Taylor began her career as a federal consumer-fraud investigator and was appointed by Elizabeth Dole in 1976 to direct a nationwide investigation of the nursing-home industry. She’s worked in the aging field ever since.

In the 1980s, Liz became one of the first geriatric care managers in the Pacific Northwest, working with thousands of families and older adults to find high-quality services. In 2000, she founded Aging Deliberately, a business that teaches people how to prepare for their aging so they’ll have more control over what happens to them. In 2005, she served as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging. She’s won the American Geriatrics Society’s 2007 Aging Awareness Media Award and the Washington Association of Homes and Services for the Aging’s Excellence in Media Award. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/growingolder/

It’s relatively easy to age successfully if you’re wealthy. Money can’t buy happiness, but it certainly allows you to buy the things that make life more comfortable at any age. 1/26/2008 11:00 PM
In my last column, I wrote about a growing problem: what to do when an older person who has dementia hasn’t named anyone she trusts to make decisions for her. This week I’ll tackle a tougher issue: what to do when the person she names does a poor job. 11/17/2007 11:00 PM
My e-mail has had a repeated theme recently: An older person with dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, isn’t paying bills, preparing meals, bathing, and other important tasks — but refuses to allow anyone to help.
11/3/2007 09:00 PM |
There’s a certain uniformity to finding a physician under Medicare these days. Rich or poor, if you’re 65 or older, you’re likely to have similar slim pickings (more so if you’re poor and on Medicare and Medicaid). 10/20/2007 11:00 PM |
Most of us want to live a long time, but nobody wants to grow old. The irony is, most of us will — live a long time and grow old. It’s easy to do — all it takes is letting the days roll by. As long as you’re healthy, getting old is a piece of cake.
10/6/2007 11:00 PM |
It’s easy as pie to age well when you’re healthy. The friction comes when you become frail. Sometimes it’s self-inflicted, the product of isolation, poor eating habits, lack of physical activity and falls — all common problems for people who age in their homes but don’t plan it correctly. 9/22/2007 11:00 PM |
A woman in her late 70s, a good friend, is pondering her options. Her home is two stories (or three, including the basement), with many stairs to her bedroom, bathroom and the washing machine. 9/8/2007 11:00 PM
Dad is 87, fun and funny, with moderate dementia. He lived “on the edge” in his own home for years while we kids worried sick. 7/28/2007 11:00 PM
When I was growing up in the 1950s and ’60s, cars were sort of round and later sort of square. My dad wore a hat to work and took the bus.
7/14/2007 11:00 PM
I’m 75 and have lived in an assisted-living facility for a year.
7/8/2007 02:00 AM
Older people are not simply younger people with wrinkles our bodies change dramatically as we age, both inside and out; some parts wear out before others, sometimes several at once.
6/17/2007 02:00 AM
Whether you live at home, in a retirement community, or in a yurt on top of a mountain, as you age, you want to do it consciously.
6/3/2007 02:00 AM

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Alphabetical listing (mas o menos)

2003 what the City’s intentions are

2004 Nursing Homes: what LTC providers learned from battling four hurricanes

2004- Elderly in Florida at risk in every hurricane season

2006 AI/AN data report from US Census 2000

2006 National Adult Day Services Week

A push for stay-at-home healthcare

A say in one’s or other’s life?

AARP Bulletin: Blogosphere 101

AGS Foundation for Health in Aging

AMERICAN INDIAN AND ALASKA NATIVE LONG TERM CARE CONFERENCE 2006

Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity Awards

Activism At All Ages

Activity and exercise

Administration on Aging Pandemic Preparation

Administration on Aging Region X: AK, ID, OR, WA

After Katrina, transplanted Creoles vow to keep culture alive

Age at retirement and long term survival of an industrial population BMJ

Age by decade

Continue reading ‘Alphabetical listing (mas o menos)’

Nonagenarian: prison care

following the earlier post, Prisons Not Geared to the Needs of the Elderly, Study Finds

At 95, killer hopes to win freedom

By J. Michael Kennedy, LA Times Staff Writer, June 29, 2007

SAN LUIS OBISPO – John Rodriguez didn’t seem to know what was happening to him.

The state’s oldest inmate didn’t immediately realize that the state parole board had recommended Thursday that he be freed. Instead, the 95-year-old sat hunched in his wheelchair, looking slightly confused, as he had for much of the four-hour hearing at the California Men’s Colony….

The Rodriguez case is unique in that it casts a spotlight on California’s aging prison population and the reluctance of the governor to release prisoners convicted of murder even if they have served their minimum sentences. In Rodriguez’s case, Thursday’s hearing marked the seventh time the state parole board has recommended that he be released….

Meanwhile, Rodriguez is the epitome of the aging prisoner, a man who uses a walker, is hard of hearing and requires a wheelchair when being moved out of the hospital ward where he lives. His normal attire is pajama bottoms and a blue prison shirt…. One recent projection is that by 2030, California will have 33,000 geriatric prisoners, compared with about 9,500 now. […]

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A say in one’s or other’s life?

Liz Taylor continues her series mentioned previously Dad deserves a say about his life, even if he’s wrong

See also, Elder neighbor in crisis? and Prisons Not Geared to the Needs of the Elderly, Study Finds

The gray area between competency and incompetence is one of the most difficult dilemmas any family can face. We went through it when my mom was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and it was hell. I urged the daughter to take her dad to a physician for a diagnosis to know for sure what’s going on. But until he’s clearly mentally impaired, he’s in charge of his life.

And here is another example of the difficulties that can arise. How do we even discuss this?

The oldest jail inmate in state custody had a massive stroke Friday and the state immediately dropped the charges against him so he wouldn’t spend what could be his final days under a cloud of criminal allegations, prosecutors said.

Charlie Parks, a 90-year-old whose family says he suffers from dementia, had been in jail for three months. He was facing a felony assault charge that claimed he tried to stab his caregiver in an assisted living home in December….

But defense attorney John Bernitz said the incarceration of his client shows a fault with the state’s system.

“I don’t know who is personally responsible, but we as a community could have treated him better,” he said.

In November, Parks, a school teacher for 40 years, packed his frying pan, clothes, crystals and meditation books into a tattered plaid suitcase and sneaked out of his assisted living home in Kalispell, Mont., ahead of spirits he thought were chasing him. He cashed his Social Security check and bought a plane ticket to Alaska.

Once in Anchorage, he took up residence at the Days Inn on East Fifth Avenue… His hotel bill mounted and the Veterans of Foreign Wars chipped in before hotel staff found Parks’ daughter, his only child, in New Mexico. She contacted Alaska Adult Protective Services and Parks was moved to a five-bed assisted living home in Russian Jack. He had been there for little more than a month when, in December, he took a 4-inch serrated steak knife to his caregiver, prosecutors said. The caregiver was grazed by the knife.


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