Aging in Place: Jail vs. Nursing Home

A concept image of an eerie corridor in a prison at night showing jail cells dimly illuminated by various ominous lights and a bunch of cell keys laying ominously on the floor

One of the many lessons that one learns in prison is, that things are what they are and will be what they will be.

-Oscar Wilde

Aging in Place

My colleague, Emory Baldwin AIA, sent this thought-provoking piece his father shared with him; after contemplating the merits of institutional living. This will get you thinking about how society treats its “interned.”

Subject: Jail vs. Nursing Home

Food for thought:

Let’s put the seniors in jail and the criminals in a nursing home.

This way the seniors would have access to showers, hobbies, and walks, they’d receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs etc. and they’d receive money instead of paying it out.

They would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly, if they fell, or needed assistance.

Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them.

A guard would check on them every 20 minutes, and bring their meals and snacks to their cell. They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.

They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counseling, pool, and education.

Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, P.J.’s and legal aid would be free, on request. Private, secure rooms for all, with an exercise outdoor yard, with gardens. Each senior could have a P.C. a T.V. radio, and daily phone calls. There would be a board of directors, to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct, that would be strictly adhered to.

The “criminals” would get cold food, be left all alone, and unsupervised; lights off at 8pm, and showers once a week. Live in a tiny room, and pay $5000.00 per month and have no hope of ever getting out.

Justice for all…


Japan’s Prisons Are a Haven for Elderly Women

Elderly in Prison 

ReThinking Nursing Home Design

Comments 9

  1. Leann Fayad
    July 13, 2010

    Hiya, I was reading a single issue about this on just one more blog. Fascinating. Your perspective on it is diametrically contradicted from what I go through earlier. I’m nevertheless pondering on the opposite items of view, but I’m leaning to a incredibly excellent extent toward yours. And irrespective, that is what’s so best about modern morning democracy and also the marketplace of ideas on-line.

  2. October 3, 2010

    For those of us who have worked in the long-term care arena, we know how heartbreakingly true this cultural wound is. The pain it caused me personally to be a part of a system so broken, inhumane and desensitized, inspired an epiphany. In the hope of seeing if I might influence a cultural change, a transformation in how we respond to our aging citizens in America, to end the marginalization of the elderly, for myself and those I care about , and “break them out” of isolation, to invite them and welcome older adults back into all aspects of community life as fully engaged members of our society, regardless of whether they might have a walker, wheelchair, cognitive or fiianical challanges, to remove ALL barriers to older adults full inclusion, to provide a sense of social belonging, meaning and purpose in daily life, Circle of Care Project was born. We have found Circle of Cares model which is focused on ending the “house arrest” for our elderly and burnout of caregivers, reenergize civic engagement and build community across cultures and generations and build inclusive accessible communiites for all people regardless of age, income or abiliity, has create a profound impact, beyond our original expectations, and we want to let others know more about the work we are leading.

    Circle of Care Project is an asset-based community develpment project that mobilizes the arts, culture, lifelong learning and para-transportation to fully integrate older adults back into the mainstream of community life. Circle of Care Project provides free access to the most life enhancing resources each city has to offer for both the elder and the volunteers who work with us to mobilize them. This model truly transforms the lives of older adults and volunteers of all ages, promotes economic revitalization, builds community partnerships across sectors and positively transforms the cities and towns we live in.

    We have been a identifies by AARP, Partners for Livable Communtiies and many others as an award winning best practice solution for successful Aging in Place and Livable Community Design. We are a grassroots nonprofit, civically driven project and welcome all inquiries.

    We look forwad to sharing our knowledge with other communities to create positive change in the cities of America for all of us as well age.

    The time is now for innovative solutions. We can be the change we want to see.

    To Learn More Contact: Joan Raderman/Ashoka Affiliate Fellow, Founder, Circle of Care Project, 303-358-4300 Mobile -303-449-8884 Office.
    Located on the University of Colorado Campus, Boulder, Colorado.

  3. October 8, 2010

    Joan, thanks for being part of the solution…
    May your ranks swell.

  4. February 26, 2011

    Fantastic Blog. We have researched this as well at the Association. It is such a sad reality! Check us out and I would love to hear from you!

    Great job again!

    1. Patrick Roden PhD
      February 26, 2011

      Thank you for the kinds words and taking the time to post, Miranda.

      Best, Patrick

  5. Elaine Willis
    February 26, 2011

    This is also applicable to the disabled who are not elderly. Although there have been some breakthroughs, I, personally, was threatened with instititutional living if I did not stop insisting on scent-free assistance with personal care. Those in POWER over my life decided I was “complaining” because they could not understand that my chemical sensitivity was life threatening. Prisoners’ rights do look good in comparison. Basic human rights for some groups are barely on the edge of society’s consciousness. Thank you, JOAN!

    1. Patrick Roden PhD
      February 26, 2011

      Thanks for posting Elaine, and reminding me/us that the “disabled” are included in this topic as well.

      Best wishes, Patrick

  6. Steven Hecht, PhD
    September 6, 2011

    I agree this is clever but I have mixed emotions. As a club sandwich caregiver, I will first mention that our jail system is not so great, often incredibly over crowded with mentally ill patients lacking good care. The prison system needs help.
    Of course our NH and ALs need to be better. But many are, and there are those that would benefit from a good place. For example, places that allow seniors with sundowning to get up at night and use the walking areas without resorting to medication. In some cases, families may need to do this for respite to survive but may still believe in the model described above as the only option.
    I deeply believe in your mission of aging in place but it is not always possible. I worry that instead seniors could be the new homeless.
    I realize that you would agree with all of this and perhaps the hurts of this life are making me a little sensitive.
    Perhaps this country will focus on caring for all people and less on material goods some day.

    1. Patrick Roden PhD
      September 6, 2011


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