Ina Jaffe | WYPR

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.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which regulate nursing facilities, are lifting the ban on visitors, effective immediately. CMS imposed the restriction in March in an effort to control outbreaks of the coronavirus.

In some nursing homes, 100% of the residents are positive for the coronavirus. That's by design. These facilities have volunteered to devote part or all of their buildings exclusively to treating COVID-19 patients, who bring in more government money. But to make room for them, the original residents can be forced out of the places they've called home.

Almost 300,000 nursing home residents are given antipsychotic drugs each week, even though most have no psychosis to justify it. But since the beginning of the Trump administration, nursing homes have rarely paid a price for even the most serious misuse of the drugs.

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.

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.

Updated at 7:27 p.m. ET

Harvey Weinstein was charged with four felony counts of sexual assault in Los Angeles County on Monday, the same day jury selection began in the Hollywood mogul's New York trial.

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.

Bob Orozco barks out instructions like a drill sergeant. The 40 or so older adults in this class follow his lead, stretching and bending and marching in place.

It goes like this for nearly an hour, with 89-year-old Orozco doing every move he asks of his class. He does that in each of the 11 classes he teaches every week at this YMCA in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

"I probably will work until something stops me," Orozco says.

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.

A vast green space in one of the poshest neighborhoods in Los Angeles is slated to become a haven for homeless veterans. That's a big change for the campus of the VA West Los Angeles Medical Center.

For years, parts of the property were illegally rented to a variety of commercial enterprises having nothing to do with helping veterans. This month, two men involved in those deals will be sentenced to federal prison for bribery and fraud.

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.

When you're caught up in the turmoil of the moment, it can be good to take the long view. So: Meet actress Marsha Hunt.

Now 100 years old, she was part of the golden age of Hollywood, and then the golden age of live television. She lived through the McCarthy era and survived the Hollywood blacklist and still held onto her ideals.

Former President Barack Obama has kept a low profile since he left office. It was just a coincidence that the man who so inspires Democrats made one of his rare public appearances in Beverly Hills on Thursday night during what has been a mostly dispiriting week for members of his party.

California is crucial to the Democrats' hopes of taking back the House of Representatives. The party has targeted districts that are held by Republicans, but that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

It's rare that a candidate for public office would be happy to come in second. But that is the case in the governor's race in California.

There has been no question about the front-runner. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former San Francisco mayor, has led in every poll. But that doesn't just affect his fellow Democrats. California has an open primary, which means that every candidate from every party competes on the same ballot. The top two finishers, regardless of party, go head-to-head in November.

For many Americans, retirement is no longer the long vacation they once imagined. More older adults are in the workforce than ever, either because they want to work or they need the money. Or both.

If you're 60 or older, please tell us about your experience in putting together the puzzle of work and retirement.

You may be contacted by an NPR reporter or producer, and your responses may be used in an upcoming project.

On a rare rainy night in Albuquerque, two dozen students are learning the proper way to care for older people. Teacher Liliana Reyes is reviewing the systems of the body — circulatory, respiratory and so on — to prepare them for an upcoming exam.

These students are seeking to join a workforce of about 3 million people who help older adults remain in their homes. They assist these clients with things like bathing, dressing, and taking medication on time.

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