KRWG

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.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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.

Aging 2.0 may not sound like the hippest start-up in San Francisco, but it's part of an industry worth $2 billion and growing fast — technology to help older adults.

Katy Fike, 35, is the company's co-founder. She's devoted to making sure that older adults who are supposed to use the products are involved in their development.

Older people are working more, voting more and drinking and smoking less than they used to. That's the good news.

But nearly three-quarters of older men and about two-thirds of women over age 64 are overweight or obese, making them more likely to have to deal with diabetes, arthritis and impaired mobility.

In just 12 years, the oldest members of the huge baby-boom generation will turn 80. Many will need some kind of long-term care. A new study from AARP says that care could vary dramatically in cost and quality depending on where they live.

Do you know how or where you want to die? At home? In a hospital? What measures you want doctors to take to prolong your life? In Oregon and more than a dozen other states, adults who are old and frail have been answering these questions and doctors write them up as orders.

Those doctor-backed instructions help protect people from unwanted medical intervention, a study finds.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The word retirement is losing its meaning. A new study finds that almost half the people who say they are retired are still working or have worked in the recent past. Nearly three quarters of baby boomers who are not yet retired say they plan to stay on the job past retirement age. NPR's Ina Jaffe has more.

INA JAFFE, BYLINE: This is a dictionary definition of retirement.

KEN DYCHTWALD: It says, to disappear, to withdraw and go away.

The Palm Springs Follies is an old-fashioned musical revue designed for an audience who remembers when this sort of entertainment wasn't old fashioned. But it's not only for older people — it's by older people. The dancers range in age from 55 to 84.

The show, an institution in Palm Springs, is getting ready to wrap up its 23rd and final season in May.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Four tech giants, including Apple and Google, settled a class action lawsuit on Thursday - 64,000 workers claimed the companies conspired to hold down salaries. The plaintiffs will reportedly receive over $300 million, far short of what they were seeking.

NPR's Ina Jaffe reports.

If you've ever been driven to rage and despair trying to pry open one of those plastic blister packs, Paul Tasner says it doesn't have to be that way. According to the 68-year-old Tasner, all it would take is for more products to use the packaging he's developed for his company, Pulpworks.

As you might guess from the name, it specializes in packaging made from pulp — from paper, cardboard, even sugarcane fiber — that's molded to fit a product.

"I just loved the idea of turning [what is] basically garbage into packaging," Tasner says.

The laboratories at The Aerospace Corp. in El Segundo, Calif., look more like a bunch of stuff from the hardware store than the set from Star Trek. But physicist John Hurrell gazes at a nondescript collection of tubes with admiration. It's a transmission electron microscope.

"This is one of the pieces of equipment which will enable us to get down pretty well to atomic-level sensitivity," he says.

With nearly 40 percent of Americans over 50 single and many looking for love online, dating sites are catering to this fast-growing market.

Vicki Cherco, 58, of Libertyville, Ill., uses one called OurTime.com. Her most recent date went well. "He was good-looking and funny and nice and thoughtful and paid for everything and asked for my phone number and said he'd like to call me again," she says.

Christmas is less than merry and far from bright for hundreds of thousands of families from the upper Midwest to the far northeast and into Canada, where ice storms have downed power lines, leaving many households in the cold and dark.

This is the worst holiday week in the 126-year history of Michigan's largest power company, Consumers Energy. The outages began over the weekend, affecting nearly 350,000 customers. Power has been restored to many, but more than 120,000 remain in the dark.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Could we be facing a shortage of lawyers? It hardly seems possible. But according to the American Bar Association, law schools are seeing their lowest number of first-year students since the 1970's.

NPR's Ina Jaffe has more.

INA JAFFE, BYLINE: This year, there were fewer than 40,000 first-year law students, which still seems like a lot. But it's an 11 percent drop from last year, and about a 24 percent drop from 2010, when new enrollments hit an all-time high.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Some of the Republican Party's most reliable support has come from voters over the age of 65. But a recent survey suggests this could be changing.

NPR's Ina Jaffe went to the Palm Springs to look at a congressional race where we might be seeing this change play out.

The number of homeless people in the U.S. has declined for the third straight year. New numbers from the Department of Housing and Urban Development show a large decrease in the number of homeless veterans. Though there are still large numbers of homeless, mainly concentrated in large cities, including New York City and Los Angeles.

NPR has been following Pansy and Winston Greene, a California couple struggling with an Alzheimer's diagnosis. Three years ago, Pansy learned she had Alzheimer's disease, and over this past summer, the couple told NPR that their day-to-day lives haven't changed much. That's still true. But on this second visit, they each seem to be looking at the future a bit differently.

Social Security has long been thought of as just part of a retirement plan — along with pensions and savings — but it turns out a lot of people depend on it for most of their income.

According to the Social Security Administration, nearly a quarter of older married couples and almost half of single retirees count on Social Security for at least 90 percent of their income.

Gilroy Hain proves that's not an easy life.

Congress has until Jan. 15 to come up with another spending plan. As they negotiate, one thing you'll hear a lot about is overhauling entitlement programs — particularly Social Security.

The program accounts for about 20 percent of federal spending. One argument in favor of cuts is that Social Security amounts to a huge transfer of wealth from the young to the old.

Curing cancer and eliminating heart disease has been the holy grail of medical research. But there could be even greater benefits if aging itself could be delayed, a study finds.

This is not quite as farfetched as it sounds. While the anti-aging "cures" being marketed these days are largely snake oil, in the laboratory scientists have managed to extend the lives of laboratory animals. And they have a better understanding of the mechanisms of biological aging.

If you're on Medicare and you're in the hospital for a few days, you may think you're an inpatient. The hospital may have other ideas. Increasingly, hospitals are placing older patients on "observation status." They may be there for days, but technically they're still outpatients.

This is a big deal for someone on Medicare because follow-up treatment in a nursing home isn't covered unless someone has been an inpatient for at least three days. That's leaving some seniors on the hook for thousands of dollars in nursing home bills.

A lot of what you'd see at the National Senior Games looks familiar if you've ever watched the Summer Olympics: There's track and field, basketball and swimming. At the Summer Olympics, however, you will not hear voices in the crowd cheering "Go, Grandma!"

Everyone at these games is over 50, and they play some sports that will likely never appear at the Olympics. Here's a sample:

Pickleball

More than 10,000 athletes are meeting in Cleveland for The National Senior Games. Adults older than 55 — and some older than 90 — are running track, riding bikes, playing basketball and competing in many of the sports you might see at the Summer Olympics. In fact there are a few who were Olympians themselves back in the day who say they find that competition is just as satisfying in their later years.

One of those is 82-year-old swimmer Graham Johnston. When he's not racing or getting ready to race, he's in the stands, checking out the other swimmers with an expert eye.

Pages