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.

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.

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.

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."

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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.

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Given a choice, most older Americans would rather stay home as they age. That's what about 90 percent would prefer according to a study by Georgetown University and technology giant, Philips. But staying at home may require home renovations which few people are considering. NPR's Ina Jaffe covers aging.

INA JAFFE, BYLINE: If older adults already know what they want, which is to stay in their own homes as the age, why wouldn't they do what's necessary to make that more likely?

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.

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NPR's Ina Jaffe covers aging. And on a recent program, we discussed a program that she's encountered on her beat - what to call the peeper she covers. Now this led to us asking you all for some terms. We polled our listeners, but listen back to what she told us in that first conversation.

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INA JAFFE, BYLINE: Maybe, once upon a time, elderly referred to a particular stage in life, but now people think of it as - means you're ailing and you're frail.

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.

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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.

Eating a bowl of cereal in the morning seems like such a simple thing, but it's close to impossible for some of the 1 million Americans who struggle with the tremors of Parkinson's disease.

There are also as many as 10 million Americans who have a disorder called essential tremor — sometimes mistaken for Parkinson's — which, when severe, also can make eating a struggle.

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.

The Musso and Frank Grill is a cherished time warp in Los Angeles. Once inside, you're in old Hollywood: The place is all dim lighting and curved booths, with a soundtrack featuring every song you ever heard in a black-and-white movie. It's a steak-and-martini kind of place.

And the guy who makes those famous martinis is Manuel "Manny" Aguirre. He's been mixing cocktails for 55 years, more than two decades of that behind the long bar here. He just turned 80 and could retire if he wanted to.

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