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Japanese Prison Lets Inmates Over 65 Years Play Nintendo DS To Battle Dementia



A report by Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun has revealed that Oita Prison, which is located on the eastern coast of Kyushu, is battling dementia in its older inmates by having them play games on a Nintendo DS (thanks RocketNews24).


In Oita Prison, 21 percent of the inmates are aged over 65, which is a little bit higher than Japan’s national average of 18.2 percent, whereas in the US only 2.2 percent of the prison population is 65 or over according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. All over the planet the number of pensioners in prison is increasing and with this comes the rise of new challenges, such as helping inmates battle the effects of dementia.


One prison official from Oita Prison said that those who have dementia see their condition worsen once they’ve bring imprisoned, reporting that he has had to deal with older prisoners hallucinating and hearing voices. To try to help those prisoners over 65-years-old to battle dementia, Oita Prison set-up a special program in 2010 that let those older inmates volunteer to partake in sessions two or three times a month. This involves doing yoga, stretching exercises, and playing brain training games on a Nintendo DS.


“The DS is the most fun part. I want to keep my brain sharp by practicing like this,” said one inmate in his sixties who had been incarcerated for fraud.


The warden in charge of the over-65s program at Oita Prison wants to see more support of older prisoners once they are released. “After they get out of prison, I hope they will take steps to continue to look after their [mental] health, such as using the DS,” he said. “We need a support system for prisoners once they are released, too.”

Chris Priestman