Taking a New Approach with Inmates Diagnosed With Dementia at ISCI

Inmates in garden

ISCI staff have found creative ways to provide therapies to aging inmates who have developed dementia may find themselves with unique needs while incarcerated.

Medical unit staff Sgt. James Dutoit, Psych Tech Roe, Officers Debbie Wilson and Sean Sotelo began developing a series of programs that align with research. They looked at different therapeutic options involving canines, music, and horticulture. Each kind of therapy has been studied and tested by different academic groups around the world. Each therapy has shown positive impacts on those with dementia, increasing their sociability and decreasing their aggression.

Inmates with severe dementia symptoms were given the opportunity to spend time with some of the IDAPI dogs in the medical area. Several inmate handlers volunteer their time for about one hour a week in the medical long-term area with their canines. Sgt. James Dutoit describes the effect of these visits as reinvigorating the dementia patients for the remainder of the day—with markedly more sociable behaviors.

Sgt. James Dutoit invited general population inmates to volunteer playing music for the inmates with dementia. The performances encourage the inmates to interact with one another in a healthy and pro-social manner that asks the patients to request music they like Officer Debbie Wilson developed their most recent endeavor with a horticulture program. These inmates planted sprouts, seeds, and blooms which sparked some messy fun, helping to focus and re-engage these individuals in pro-social activities and improve their quality of life.

Story published: 08/07/2018
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