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Jaffe Bringing Message of a "New Age of Aging" to Tallahassee

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NPR’s Ina Jaffe is coming to Tallahassee. She’ll be appearing at FSU’s Ruby Diamond Concert Hall the evening of Monday, Sept. 19th through the auspices of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Speaking with WFSU-FM, Jaffe said her NPR career began back in the mid-1980s in somewhat unremarkable fashion.

“I had been writing for an alternative weekly in Chicago, which is where I’m from. And a friend of mine told me there was an NPR bureau in Chicago and I just walked in and introduced myself to the producer there; ‘Smokey’ Baer who is still a producer on All Things Considered,” she remembered. “I showed him my print work and we talked for awhile and he showed me how to use a tape recorder and I came up with something to do as a freelancer and I never left.”

In recent years, Jaffe has focused much of her attention on the subject of aging; something that she said she also sort of fell into after NPR decided to create a dedicated beat on the topic.

“I had the opportunity to do it and that is really the first time and that is really the first time I ever gave it any thought. It has been a huge learning experience for me, which I have treasured. It’s been wonderful! And I feel that after four years I’ve barely scratched the surface,” she said.

Next Monday evening, Jaffe will talk about that part of the aging surface she has scratched before a Tallahassee audience. Part of that discussion, she said, will revisit a recent story she produced for NPR’s Weekend Morning Edition with Scott Simon.

“We talked about some academic research on the idea of purpose – the impact of purpose – and the researcher found over many studies that having a sense of purpose increases longevity, it improves health, it makes people less susceptible to issues like dementia and other disabilities that sometimes accompany older age.”

And because one out of five Americans will soon be 65 or older, Jaffe said we’re literally headed into uncharted territory and we don’t even have the words to describe where we’re going.

“People are just living differently than they ever have,” she explained. “One of the issues that I’ve been covering on an ongoing basis is language, that people really don’t have a lot of good terms that accurately reflect the way older people are living and the way they feel and the way they want to be perceived.”

Jaffe said that’s just a few of the items she’ll be addressing this coming Monday night at 7:30 in Ruby Diamond Concert Hall. To find out more and purchase tickets, visit the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute web site: www.olli.fsu.edu.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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