According to a report from Human Rights Watch, in 2010 roughly 125,000 of the nation’s 1.5 million inmates were 55 years of age and over. This represented a 282 percent increase between 1995 and 2010, compared with a 42 percent increase in the overall inmate population. If the elderly inmate population keeps growing at the current rate, as is likely, the prison system could soon find itself overwhelmed with chronic medical needs.
There is no official count of how many inmates suffer from dementia. But some gerontologists say the current caseload represents the trickle before the deluge. They say the risk of the disease is higher behind bars because inmates are sicker to start with — with higher rates of depression, diabetes, hypertension, H.I.V./AIDS and head trauma. Given these risk factors, the dementia rate in prison could well grow at two or three times that of the world outside.
The New York Times