How To Access Resources for Inmates Dealing with Aging and End-Of-Life Care

Inmates Dealing with Aging and End-Of-Life Care 

Spending time in prison can be a life-altering experience. While incarcerated, inmates are surrounded by people who have committed crimes and been convicted of those crimes. Inmates may feel isolated from friends and family outside of prison, so they need to receive emotional support from others and access to resources to help them cope during their stay. One area that many inmates struggle with is aging and end-of-life care. Fortunately, programs are designed specifically for this population that provides the services they need—at no cost. Keep reading for more insights. 

Age-Related Difficulties and Issues with End-Of-Life Care Inmates 

The aging and end-of-life care of inmates is challenging, especially for prison healthcare providers. Prison aging is inevitable, but one can manage it effectively with proper planning and strategies. 

The aging process begins when one reaches the age of 60 years. The process continues over some time until death occurs. Old age is associated with many physical, emotional, social, and economic problems which need to be addressed to improve the quality of life. 

Inmates are more likely to experience health problems as they age compared with the general population due to the following reasons: 

Inmates Have Poor Access to Healthcare Services 

Diagnosis and treatment are delayed due to the lack of access to these services. More serious health issues, such as chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and hypertension, could result from this oversight. 

 Inmates have limited mobility due to restricted movement within prison facilities or during transfer between facilities. It makes it difficult for them to exercise regularly, which increases their body weight and may result in cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks or strokes. 

Social Isolation 

Aging inmates tend to feel isolated from their families and friends as they grow old. It can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. They also experience loneliness when they cannot communicate with people outside prison walls. 

Poor Access to Healthcare Services 

Most prisons do not have adequate medical facilities for inmates who need special attention due to age or chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure. 

Need More Resources 

Aging inmates are often in poor health, which requires more intensive medical care. There may be limited access to medical specialists and treatment options. Additionally, a facility must be equipped with appropriate medical equipment or training. In that case, it can negatively impact the quality of care received by the elderly inmates. 

Poor Communication Between Healthcare Providers and Correctional Officers 

When someone is sick or dying, they need support from their loved ones, caregivers, and healthcare providers to help them cope with their illness or impending death. A lack of communication between these groups can lead to inadequate support for the individual and their family during this difficult time. 

Where Do You Begin? 

If you’re dealing with an aging inmate, there are some critical steps to take: 

Consult With the Prison Staff 

Talk to the prison staff so they can help you understand your options. Try to get a feel for what resources are available and how to access them. Remember that some facilities may need more resources, so feel free to ask about other options available. 

For example, if you need specific medications or treatments that aren’t available in prison, talk with them about what resources are available outside of jail or prison walls. They may also be able to tell you about any programs within the facility that could help you manage chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. 

Make Sure The Inmates Legal Team Knows What’s Going On 

It may be the most crucial step of all. Your lawyer should be able to help you find resources within the prison or provide other advice about how best to handle the situation. If the inmate has a terminal illness or is going through physical changes because of aging, they need to inform their legal team immediately. The lawyer can make sure that the inmate’s medical needs are being met and that corrections staff understand what is happening to the inmate physically and mentally. If you don’t have a lawyer, contact one as early as possible so they can help guide you through the process. 

Make A List of Your Loved One’s Needs and Desires 

Your loved one’s basic needs and wants should be at the top of your list. They may include medical and non-medical care, such as treatment for chronic conditions, prescription drugs, dental care, glasses and hearing aids, physical therapy, or other rehabilitation services. 

In addition to healthcare-related needs, including those things that are important to your loved one: 

  • Visitation with family members or friends (especially if there are limited opportunities for this) 
  • Access to religious services/practices (if applicable) 
  • Any medications they take or special diets they must follow 
  • What kind of physical therapy or rehabilitation services are available in their prison 
  • If there are any special facilities where they would be comfortable receiving care 

Find Out If Your Loved One Has a Health Care Power of Attorney 

A healthcare power of attorney is a document that allows you to make decisions on behalf of the inmate if they become unable to do so. It also lets you look for their best interests during the aging process. 

Your loved one can create this document in person at the prison medical clinic or by mail (though we recommend working with an attorney).  

Once obtained, keep all documents safe and accessible; if necessary, give copies to other family members so they know their rights over these decisions. 

Get Information About Your State’s Laws 

Knowing your state’s laws regarding end-of-life care for inmates is essential. Some states have laws that allow terminally ill inmates to be transferred to a hospice facility or even released on compassionate release. Others allow terminally ill inmates to receive life-sustaining treatment. 

It is also your right as an inmate’s family member or friend to help make medical decisions for them if they cannot do so themself, even if the state doesn’t have a law allowing surrogates access to this information (and many don’t). You may become a surrogate decision-maker by filing papers with the court in your jurisdiction. Have them approved by a judge who believes you can make these decisions based on what you know about the prisoner’s wishes, values, and current condition. 

You may get hospice services if approved by your local government or healthcare provider. You can also find out about assisted suicide laws in your area. You might even have access to medical marijuana if that’s legal where you live. 

If the inmate has no other options, they can always ask for help from fellow inmates. You never know who can assist you with your end-of-life needs. 

What Are the Different Resources Needed by Prisoners Coping with Aging and End-Of-Life Care? 

Most inmates live to their 50s or 60s while incarcerated, and many die in prison. Their last days of life can be made a little more comfortable by providing them with specific resources and support. 

Hospice Care 

Inmates dealing with aging and end-of-life complications often need hospice care. Its goal is not to prolong life but to provide comfort for those living with serious illnesses or disabilities that have become unmanageable due to the severity of their condition. These individuals can receive hospice care in their homes or places of their choosing (such as prison). 

Palliative Care 

Palliative care is a medical specialty that relieves serious illness’s pain, symptoms, and stress. It can be used at any age or stage in an illness, but it’s essential for people with life-limiting conditions such as advanced cancer and dementia. 

Palliative care is often provided by a team of health professionals who work with the person who has an illness or their family to help them cope with their condition. The aim is to improve their quality of life while they’re still able to enjoy it–and this can happen even if treatment has stopped working. 

Resources and Support 

Inmates dealing with aging and end-of-life care are often left to fend for themselves. They need support, but finding it in prison can be difficult. Inmates may not know where to turn or who they can trust when they need help. 

Inmates experiencing health problems related to their age should contact their healthcare provider as soon as possible to get the treatment they need. In addition, inmates should tell their loved ones outside of prison about any changes in their physical or mental health in case something goes wrong. 

Inmate Healthcare 

Most inmates are not afforded the same access to healthcare as civilians, and they can face unique problems when it comes to getting the treatment they need. For example, prisons often lack adequate facilities for prisoners with mental health issues such as dementia which is common among the elderly. They are also unable to provide medications or therapy sessions on-site. 

Long-Term Care 

Long-term care is provided to inmates who can no longer care for themselves. Inmates who are eligible for long-term care may live in prison or be sent to live with family or friends. If this is not an option, you will need to find someone to provide you with long-term care at home. 

The government may help pay for the cost of your loved one’s treatment if they qualify for Medicaid benefits through an assisted living facility or nursing home. However, there are restrictions on how much money each state will spend. 

How To Get Care for Your Incarcerated Loved One 

As a loved one, you want to provide your inmate with the best care possible. But when it comes to aging and end-of-life issues, you may feel like you’re flying blind. 

Here are some tips for finding resources that can help your loved one: 

Find Out What Services Are Available in The Prison Facility 

Your inmate may have access to doctors, nurses, and chaplains — even if they’re not on staff at the facility. Ask what these professionals recommend for your loved one’s specific condition. They may be able to provide medical or other treatments that can help alleviate symptoms. 

Contact Outside Agencies to Get Additional Support 

If your loved one needs additional services such as transportation to medical appointments, help with daily tasks, or emotional support during treatment, contact agencies in their community that offer those services. 

Contacting an ex-offender service provider can be helpful if your loved one has trouble making phone calls due to poor health or financial constraints. An ex-offender service provider can provide information about local programs and organizations to help with your loved one’s needs. 

Get in Touch with the Bureau of Justice Statistics 

The Bureau of Justice offers a guide on caring for an elderly prisoner. This document provides information on eligibility for disability benefits, medical treatment, and legal assistance. 

Make Their Life as Comfortable as Possible 

It’s important to remember that aging inmates are people first and foremost and deserve the same dignity and respect. In many ways, they’re more vulnerable because they have fewer resources at their disposal–and may not even be able to communicate their needs to others effectively. Taking care of their needs and making them as comfortable as possible is crucial for their well-being.