Ina Jaffe

Ina Jaffe is a veteran NPR correspondent covering the aging of America. 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. In 2015, she was named one of the nation's top "Influencers in Aging" by PBS publication Next Avenue, which wrote "Jaffe has reinvented reporting on aging."

Jaffe also reports on politics, contributing to NPR's coverage of national elections since 2008. From her base at NPR's production center in Culver City, California, Jaffe 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 illegally 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.

Residents and staff of long-term care facilities account for at least 40% of U.S. deaths from the coronavirus. In reaction, nursing homes have banned family visitors, scrambled for scarce personal safety equipment, and attracted scrutiny from state and federal lawmakers.

What's received less attention is that many nursing homes have remained virtually COVID-19-free. If researchers could figure out what made the difference, that could help protect nursing home residents now and in the future.

But so far, their studies have drawn wildly different conclusions.

Despite the huge outbreaks of COVID-19 in nursing homes, the federal agency that regulates them has failed to distribute much of the money it received under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, according to two members of Congress.

It wasn't candlelight and soft music that made the 40th anniversary of Luann and Jeff Thibodeau so memorable. It was gazing at each other through the window of Jeff's nursing home in Texas and eating carryout from the Olive Garden. Just the two of them. And a nursing assistant.

"She fed him, and I ate mine, and that was it," Luann Thibodeau says. "So that was our 40th wedding anniversary."

Newly released data from the U.S. government show that nearly 26,000 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19 and more than 60,000 have fallen ill. These figures, however, don't account for all nursing homes across the country.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, known as CMS, about 80% of nursing homes nationwide reported data to the CDC as is now required. The remaining 20% could face fines if they don't comply.

Nursing homes were not on our minds much before the COVID-19 pandemic. Then their residents began dying by the thousands.

While there are no definitive figures, nursing home residents and staff appear to account for about one-third of the roughly 90,000 COVID-19 related deaths in the U.S., according to The New York Times. Those figures may be low because some states do not report such figures and the CDC is just beginning to collect them.

With more than 11,000 resident deaths, nursing homes have become the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis. Now, they're asking the federal government for help — $10 billion's worth of help.

President Trump Thursday announced the formation of an independent commission to look at the response of nursing homes to the coronavirus. The move comes as nursing home operators clamor for more equipment and testing.

In California, Riverside County's leading public health official, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, has filed a formal complaint with the state about a nursing home where 82 residents were evacuated earlier this month.

California's Department of Public Health has confirmed to NPR that it is addressing the complaint. It would not elaborate.

More than half of older Americans, many with chronic conditions, put off medical treatment during the first month of social distancing. That's according to a nationwide survey funded by the SCAN Foundation and the John A. Hartford Foundation, both of which focus on improving care for older adults.

The people most vulnerable to the coronavirus are older adults with underlying health conditions. And that perfectly describes the residents of nursing homes.

In some parts of the U.S., the desperate need to slow the spread of the coronavirus is coming into conflict with the scramble to find more hospital beds.

Nursing homes have been the sites of some of the earliest — and deadliest — outbreaks of COVID-19. Some people who run such facilities are understandably leery of accepting new patients who might spread the virus.

Nonetheless, some of the largest states are now ordering nursing homes to accept patients who have been discharged from the hospital but are still recovering from COVID-19.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Eighty-three-year-old Betty Givens welcomes two visitors to the home she shares with her daughter in Riverside, Calif.

"Hi, how are you?" asks Melinda Underwood, an occupational therapist.

"Oh, a little lightheaded," Givens says, almost apologetically.

Underwood and clinical social worker JoJean Harper are concerned, but it's one of many things they can address that will help Givens remain in her home as long as possible.

We all hope for some peace and comfort at the end of life. Hospices are designed to make that possible, relieving pain and providing emotional and spiritual support. But two new government studies released Tuesday morning find that the vast majority of hospices have sometimes failed to do that.

And there's no easy way for consumers to distinguish the good hospices from the bad.

It can be hard to quantify the problem of elder abuse. Experts believe that many cases go unreported. And Wednesday morning, their belief was confirmed by two new government studies.

The research, conducted and published by the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, finds that in many cases of abuse or neglect severe enough to require medical attention, the incidents have not been reported to enforcement agencies, though that's required by law.

A Republican congressman who should have waltzed to re-election is now in the fight of his career. Duncan Hunter, who has represented an inland Southern California district for a decade, was indicted in August on charges of using a quarter of a million dollars in campaign funds for personal expenses.

Nearly three dozen states require voters to show identification at the polls. And almost half of those states want photo IDs. But there are millions of eligible voters who don't have them. A 2012 survey estimated that 7 percent of American adults lack a government-issued photo ID.

The antipsychotic drug Seroquel was approved by the FDA years ago to help people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other serious mental illnesses. But too frequently the drug is also given to people who have Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. The problem with that? Seroquel can be deadly for dementia patients, according to the FDA.

We all hope for a little peace at the end of life, for ourselves and for our loved ones. Hospice services can play a big role, relieving pain and providing spiritual and emotional support. But a federal report published Tuesday synthesized patient and Medicare payment data going back to 2005 and found that, while patients generally can count on hospice to relieve their suffering, some hospice providers are bilking Medicare and neglecting patients.

A new study from the AARP Public Policy Institute finds that dementia patients living at home or in assisted living facilities are increasingly being given antipsychotic drugs. This is despite the fact that antipsychotics are not approved to treat dementia. They're intended to treat serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

A California judge could decide Tuesday if Gloria Single will be reunited with her husband, Bill. She's 83 years old. He's 93. The two have been married for 30 years. They lived in the same nursing home until last March, when Gloria Single was evicted without warning.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

More than one-quarter of serious cases of nursing home abuse are not reported to the police, according to an alert released Monday morning by the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services.

O.J. Simpson will find out on Thursday if he soon will be released from the Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada. He has been held there for nearly nine years for convictions on armed robbery and other charges.

The former NFL hero, TV pitchman and movie star, now 70, stands a good chance of being granted parole when he appears before the Nevada Parole Board via video link. No one has registered to testify against him. He will likely try to persuade the board of his good behavior behind bars.

If paroled, Simpson would be released from prison no sooner than Oct. 1.

Leon Watts III stands out among his fellow gerontology students at the University of Southern California's Davis School of Gerontology. They all look to be under 25. Watts is 66. What led up to his return to school was decades spent rehabbing homes in Los Angeles. Over that time, his clients have aged and he's seen their needs change. Watts decided he'd be able to do a lot more for them with a master's degree in gerontology.

If you're looking for work, you might start with one of those websites that posts jobs. But if you're an older adult looking for work, you might have found yourself excluded from some of the features on those sites.

When the Academy Award nominations were announced in 2015 — and again in 2016 — there was swift backlash against the Academy for the lack of racial diversity among the nominees. Now, a new study of Best Picture nominees has revealed yet another demographic that's been chronically underrepresented in Hollywood — older people.

Some encouraging news in the battle against Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia: The rate at which older Americans are getting these conditions is declining. That's according to a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers say one reason for the improved outlook is an increase in education.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Donald Trump has agreed to pay $25 million to settle three lawsuits that targeted his now-defunct Trump University real estate seminars. NPR's Ina Jaffe has been following the cases, and she is here in the studio with me now. Hi, Ina.

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