Ina Jaffe

Ina Jaffe is a National desk correspondent based at NPR West, NPR's production center in Culver City, Calif.

Covering California and the West, Jaffe has reported on nearly all of the major news events, elections, and natural disasters in the region. Currently, she covers issues related to aging. She also reports on regional and national politics, contributing election coverage in 2008, 2010, and 2012.

In addition to captivating and informing listeners, Jaffe's reports have garnered critical acclaim. Her 2012 investigation into how the West Los Angeles VA made millions from renting 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.

Jaffe's 2011 series on rising violence in California State Psychiatric Hospitals was also honored with a Gracie Award as well as awards from Investigative Reporters and Editors and the American Bar Association. Her three-part series on California's Three Strikes sentencing law won the ABA's Silver Gavel Award in 2010, as well as the Sigma Delta Chi award from 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-Madison and DePaul University receiving Bachelor's and Master's degrees in philosophy, respectively.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

Some famous writers, painters and musicians have done some of their best work in their later years — impressionist Claude Monet, for one. But at the North Hollywood Senior Arts Colony, older people are proving that you don't have to be famous — or even a professional artist — to live a creatively fulfilling life in old age.

With a fully equipped theater and painting and sculpture studios, there seems to be rehearsals or exhibitions of some sort going on here all the time.

All this week, NPR is taking a look at the demographic changes that could reshape the political landscape in Texas over the next decade — and what that could mean for the rest of the country.

Democrats who hope to turn Texas from red to blue are looking to California for inspiration.

Right now, 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. One of them is 73-year-old Pansy Greene. She's in the early stages of Alzheimer's, and she and her husband, Winston, want people to know that so far, their daily lives have changed little despite the diagnosis.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In Southern California, a nuclear power plant that supplied energy to more than a million homes is shutting down for good. As NPR's Ina Jaffe reports, the San Onofre nuclear plant has been idle for repair since January of 2012.

INA JAFFE, BYLINE: The twin, white domes at the San Onofre nuclear power plant have been landmarks on the California coast for more than four decades.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTESTERS CHANTING)

With all of the controversy over entitlement reform, there's one thing both sides can agree on: Social Security alone does not provide enough money for a comfortable retirement. For these workers, the Obama administration is proposing automatically enrolling workers in IRAs through their employers.

California adopted a version of this last year. Democratic state Sen. Kevin de Leon sponsored the bill to automatically enroll workers in an individual retirement account. The inspiration, he says, was his Aunt Francisca, who's 74.

Since the November election, 240 California prisoners facing potential life sentences have been set free. That's because voters changed California's tough three strikes sentencing law.

As NPR reported in 2009, that law sent thousands of people to prison for terms of 25 years to life for minor, nonviolent crimes. Now those prisoners can ask the court to have their sentences reduced.

One of those set free under the new law is Shane Reams. He owes his freedom in no small part to his mother Sue's 17-year campaign to change the law.

Increasingly, people are continuing to work past 65. Almost a third of Americans between the ages of 65 and 70 are working, and among those older than 75, about 7 percent are still on the job. In Working Late, a series for Morning Edition, NPR profiles older adults who are still in the workforce.

Increasingly, people are continuing to work past 65. Almost a third of Americans between the ages of 65 and 70 are working, and among those older than 75, about 7 percent are still on the job. In Working Late, a series for Morning Edition, NPR profiles older adults who are still in the workforce.

Increasingly, people are continuing to work past 65. Almost a third of Americans between the ages of 65 and 70 are working, and among those older than 75, about 7 percent are still on the job. In Working Late, a series for Morning Edition, NPR profiles older adults who are still in the workforce.

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