The Multiple Punishment of Being an Older Adult Coping With Health Problems in Prison

Hila Avieli, Tova Band-Winterstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Objectives: Studies have examined the vulnerabilities and the extent of health problems experienced by the older adult population in prison. However, reports about the subjective experiences of incarcerated older adults who are coping with health problems are scarce. This is alarming since older adults comprise the fastest-growing demographic in the prison systems of the United States and Europe. The aim of the current study was to bring forth the voices of older adults who are living with diseases in prison and to outline the landscape of struggling with everyday health care management. Research Design and Methods: An interpretive phenomenological analysis was used to analyze the narratives of 23 individuals aged 60–88 who were coping with health problems in prison. Results: The narratives revealed 3 major themes: (1) living day to day with illness in prison: fighting prison bureaucracy and public humiliation; (2) coping with complex medical issues: lack of professional medical care and cumulative problems, and (3) what does the future hold? Fear of living with illness out of prison. Discussion and Implications: Intersectionality was used as a conceptual framework for understanding the participants’ narratives. The cumulative effect of belonging to systematically oppressed and marginalized groups is discussed. The research findings point to issues and experiences that are unique to older adults coping with health problems in prison and can serve as a framework for developing tailored interventions for these individuals.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Gerontologist
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • Incarcerated individuals’ health
  • Incarcerated older adults
  • Interpretive phenomenological analysis
  • Intersectionality

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'The Multiple Punishment of Being an Older Adult Coping With Health Problems in Prison'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this