Ina Jaffe

Ina Jaffe is a veteran NPR correspondent covering the aging of America in all its variety. Her stories on Morning Edition and All Things Considered have focused on older adults' involvement in politics and elections, dating and divorce, work and retirement, fashion and sports, as well as issues affecting long term care and end of life choices. She also has an ongoing spot on Weekend Edition with Scott Simon called "1 in 5" where she discusses issues relevant to the 1/5 of the U.S. population that will be 65 years old or more by 2030.

Ina also reports on politics, contributing to NPR's coverage of national elections in 2008, 2010, and 2012.

From her base at NPR's production center in Culver City, California, Ina has covered most of the region's major news events from the beating of Rodney King to the election of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. She's also developed award-winning enterprise pieces. Her 2012 investigation into how the West Los Angeles VA made millions from renting vacant property while ignoring plans to house homeless veterans won an award from the Society of Professional Journalists as well as a Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media. A few months after the story aired, the West Los Angeles VA broke ground on supportive housing for homeless vets.

Her year-long coverage on the rising violence in California's public psychiatric hospitals won the 2011 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award as well as a Gracie Award. Her 2010 series on California's tough three strikes law was honored by the American Bar Association with the Silver Gavel Award, as well as by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Before moving to Los Angeles, Jaffe was the first editor of Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon which made its debut in 1985.

Born in Chicago, Jaffe attended the University of Wisconsin and DePaul University receiving Bachelor's and Master's degrees in philosophy, respectively.

Poverty does not treat men and women equally, especially in old age. Women 65 years old and older who are living in poverty outnumber men in those circumstances by more than 2 to 1. And these women are likely to face the greatest deprivation as they become older and more frail.

This pretty much describes the situation of 87-year-old Lydia Smith.

As Dean Cole's dementia worsened, he began wandering at night. He'd even forgotten how to drink water. His wife, Virginia, could no longer manage him at home. So after much agonizing, his family checked him into a Minnesota nursing home.

America's retirement statistics are grim: About 40 percent of baby boomers have nothing saved for retirement, about a third of Americans who are currently retired rely on Social Security for almost all of their income, and the outlook for current workers isn't much better. About half of private sector employees have no retirement plan on the job.

California is often considered the nation's trendsetter. But Republicans running for president better hope that's not true.

Their talk about immigration echoes what Californians heard in the 1990s. That's when Proposition 187, a ballot measure viewed as strongly anti-immigrant, was a key to the re-election of California's Republican Gov. Pete Wilson.

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Social Security may not sound like a sexy topic, but it's one of the most popular government programs ever, and it has become an issue in the presidential campaign. This was Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey in the Republican debate on Fox last month.

Donald Trump has used his wealth, his celebrity and his blunt manner of speaking to blast his way to the top of the polls in the GOP presidential race. It's a phenomenon that's had pundits — and some voters — scratching their heads. Except in California, where larger-than-life celebrity candidates are, like, so 12 years ago.

That's when Arnold Schwarzenegger announced he was running for governor of California. And he did it in his own inimitable way, on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Families who adopt foster kids need a lot of support. In Rantoul, Ill., families get help in a neighborhood called Hope Meadows from older adults who've moved there just for that purpose.

The Gossett family has definitely benefited from this arrangement. Whitney Gossett adopted four siblings from foster care: brothers Patrick, 13, Andrew, 12, Jeremiah, 7, and sister Bella, who's 10.

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Want to eat food that's fresh, local and cooked from scratch? Consider a retirement home. Once known for bland, institutional fare, hundreds of retirement communities around the nation now tout their restaurant-like dining experiences.

One of those is Bethlehem Woods in La Grange Park, Ill. Resident Marge Healy counts on having dinner with the same group of friends every evening.

"We're almost like a family," she says, as her friends nod in agreement.

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Everyone gets dressed in the morning, but Iris Apfel has made it her art form. She is 93 now and a subject of a documentary opening around the country this month titled "Iris." NPR's Ina Jaffe covers aging and caught up with the fashion icon.

When a friend or loved one gets sick — really, seriously sick — it's hard to know what to say. So some of us say nothing. Which seems better than saying the wrong thing, though people do that too.

Los Angeles graphic designer Emily McDowell's solution to this dilemma are what she calls Empathy Cards. When someone is seriously ill, she says, the usual "Get Well Soon" won't do. Because you might not, she says. At least not soon.

A healthy diet is good for everyone. But as people get older, cooking nutritious food can become difficult and sometimes physically impossible. A pot of soup can be too heavy to lift. And there's all that time standing on your feet. It's one of the reasons that people move into assisted living facilities.

But a company called Chefs for Seniors has an alternative: They send professional cooks into seniors' homes. In a couple of hours they can whip up meals for the week.

#NPRreads is a new feature we're testing out on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers throughout our newsroom will share pieces that have kept them reading. They'll share tidbits on Twitter using the #NPRreads hashtag, and on occasion we'll share a longer take here on the blog.

This week, we bring you four reads:

From Ina Jaffe, a correspondent on NPR's National Desk:

Sexual relationships in long-term care facilities are not uncommon. But the long-term care industry is still grappling with the issue.

#NPRreads is a new feature we're testing out on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers throughout our newsroom will share pieces that have kept them reading. They'll share tidbits on Twitter using the #NPRreads hashtag, and on occasion we'll share a longer take here on the blog.

This week, we share with you five reads.

From Ina Jaffe, a correspondent on NPR's National Desk:

Lena Katakura's father is 81. He was recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer and doctors don't expect him to survive the illness. Katakura says a nurse at their Honolulu hospital gave them a form to fill out to indicate what kind of treatment he'd want at the end of life.

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There's a new documentary out with a very simple message - people want to find that someone special no matter their age. It's called "The Age Of Love," and it takes us to a speed dating event for seniors. NPR's Ina Jaffe has more.

The idea of speed dating for people over 70 can evoke laughs from anyone who's younger, along with reactions from "how cute" to "how silly" to "how gross." And while the documentary The Age of Love does have plenty of ha-ha moments, most of the time its subjects are reflecting on a need for intimacy that never seems to die.

When we think of Alzheimer's disease or other dementias, we think of the loss of memory or the inability to recognize familiar faces, places, and things. But for caregivers, the bigger challenge often is coping with the other behaviors common in dementia: wandering, sleeplessness and anxiety or aggression.

Older adults with Alzheimer's Disease or other forms of dementia are at risk of being prescribed dangerous antipsychotic medication whether they live in nursing homes or not. That's according to a study from the Government Accountability Office published Monday.

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It's Christmas day and it is opening day for the movie The Interview."


SETH ROGEN: Thank you so much for coming. And we thought this might not happen at all.

This is the season for generosity — and for con artists who take advantage of it.

Older adults are particularly vulnerable to scams; more than a quarter of the victims of financial fraud are over 60, according to the FTC. But now there are products on the market designed to protect seniors' nest eggs.

It's a sunny autumn afternoon and a good time to make apple crisp at Pathstone Living, a memory care facility and nursing home in Mankato, Minn. Activities staffer Jessica Abbott gathers half a dozen older women at a counter in the dining area, where the soundtrack is mostly music they could have fox-trotted to back in the day.

Antipsychotic drugs have helped many people with serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. But for older people with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia, they can be deadly. The Food and Drug Administration has given these drugs a black box warning, saying they can increase the risk of heart failure, infections and death. Yet almost 300,000 nursing home residents still get them.

It's one of the worst fears we have for our parents or for ourselves: that we, or they, will end up in a nursing home, drugged into a stupor. And that fear is not entirely unreasonable. Almost 300,000 nursing home residents are currently receiving antipsychotic drugs, usually to suppress the anxiety or aggression that can go with Alzheimer's disease and other dementia.

The lives of older men have changed in a significant way since 1998, or at least their sex lives have changed. That's the year Viagra was introduced. Cialis and Levitra followed a few years later.

The once taboo subject of erectile dysfunction is now inescapable for anyone who watches TV. Late-night comedians continually mine the topic. By 2002, Jay Leno had told 944 Viagra jokes, according to the Wall Street Journal. We couldn't independently verify that number. Actually, we didn't try.

A federal lawsuit against two Watsonville, Calif., nursing homes may offer a new approach to dealing with the persistent problem of such facilities overmedicating their residents.

The lawsuit details multiple cases when the government says these drugs were inappropriately administered to patients.

When it comes to reining in medical costs, delivering more health care and bringing it right to the patient's home can, for a select group of patients, save money.

These particular patients are elders struggling with multiple chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, stroke, diabetes or dementia. They make up just 5 percent of the people on Medicare, but they account for about half of all Medicare spending.