A former prison officer from Yorkshire says staff are being forced to become carers for a growing number of older inmates who are "dying in front of them."
The man who worked in prisons for more than 30 years and wants to remain anonymous said: "You're looking at young prison staff trained to be prison officers but becoming carers."
The former officer said when he started work older prisoners were transferred to less secure jails when they approached the end of their sentences, but that had changed.
He said: "Now you're getting older prisoners starting big sentences and the young prison officers are coming straight from university, with very little life experience.
"Then they're having to deal with major traumatic events like somebody dying in front of them or caring for somebody at the end of their life."
His concerns were echoed by the chief inspector of prisons, Peter Clarke, who said the Prison Service should consider whether a new type of accommodation was needed, specifically designed to deal with older prisoners.
Ministry of Justice figures show there were 13,617 inmates aged above 50 in June. The Prison Officers Association says increasing numbers are frail, incontinent or have dementia.
The Prison Service said it was working to meet the needs of elderly prisoners.