‘does He Remember Being President’
The downward spiral of Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s
Ronald Reagan was never particularly admired for his memory. But in the late 1980s and early ’90s, he slowly began to lose his grasp on ordinary function. In 1992, three years after leaving the White House, Reagan’s forgetting became impossible to ignore. He was eighty-one.
Both his mother and older brother had experienced senility, and he had demonstrated a mild forgetfulness in the late years of his presidency. Like many people who eventually suffer from the disease, Reagan may have had an inkling for some time of what was to come. In his stable of disarming jokes were several about memory troubles afflicting the elderly. He shared one at a 1985 dinner honoring Senator Russell Long.
“An elderly couple was getting ready for bed one night,” Reagan told the crowd. “The wife turned to her husband and said, ‘I’m just so hungry for ice cream and there isn’t any in the house.'” “I’ll get you some,” her husband offered. “You’re a dear,” she said. “Vanilla with chocolate sauce. Write it down–you’ll forget.” “I won’t forget,” he said. “With whipped cream on top.” “Vanilla with chocolate sauce and whipped cream on top,” he repeated. “And a cherry,” she said. “And a cherry on top.” “Please write it down,” she said. “I know you’ll forget.”
“Not good” was how Reagan’s daughter Maureen characterized his condition in the fifth year following the diagnosis.
Ronald Reagans Brain Injury
Ronald Reagan served as President of the United States from 1981 to 1989. He passed away in 2004 from Alzheimers Disease, perhaps the most famous victim of this terrible affliction. Most Americans are unaware that in 1989 Reagan underwent neurosurgery to remove blood build-up between his brain and skull following a fall from a horse in Mexico. Below is a link to an article on his surgery:
There is significant discussion in the field of medicine that a brain injury can increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimers Disease or cause the disease to occur earlier in an individuals lifetime. For example, recent research found that patients with Alzheimers who had suffered a traumatic brain injury earlier in life developed the disease 2.5 years earlier than those who had not suffered a brain injury.
It is impossible to generalize from large-scale studies to a particular individual such as Reagan but it is worthwhile to acknowledge the possibility that his traumatic brain injury influenced the course of his Alzheimers.
Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center! Visit us at:
Reagan Aides Once Raised The Possibility Of Invoking The 25th Amendment
The president was acting strangely. In the wake of a scandal about his illegal dealings with foreign powers, White House aides felt he was so inattentive and inept that a memo sent to the chief of staff raised the prospect of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
The president was Ronald Reagan, who was dealing with fallout from the Iran-Contra scandal. His chief of staff ultimately dismissed the possibility of using the 25th Amendment to remove him, but the incident is one of the few cases in American history in which White House staff seriously suggested it as an option for removing a president from office, based on his ability to perform the job.
Howard H. Baker Jr. was just starting his job as Reagans chief of staff in 1987 when he asked two aides to investigate how the Iran-Contra scandal was affecting the White House. James Cannon, the aide who wrote the memo about the investigation, reported back that the place was in chaos.
The staff told stories about how inattentive and inept the president was, Cannon recalled to journalists Jane Mayer and Doyle McManus in Landslide: The Unmaking of the President, 1984-1988. He was lazy he wasn’t interested in the job. They said he wouldn’t read the papers they gave himeven short position papers and documents. They said he wouldn’t come over to workall he wanted to do was to watch movies and television at the residence.
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Interment At The Reagan Library
Return to California
After the service, the casket was driven to Andrews Air Force Base, passing crowds along its route. The family and close friends boarded the VC 25-A Presidential Aircraft, and as she had done previously, Nancy Reagan waved farewell to the crowds just before boarding the plane.
About five hours after the aircraft departed Andrews, it touched down at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, California. The public, including sailors from the USS Ronald Reagan, was there to witness the plane’s arrival. Reagan’s body was driven in a large motorcade through the streets of southern California.
Eulogies finished, and the service over, the Air Force Band of the Golden West played four “ruffles and flourishes“, and the U.S. Army Chorus sang “The Star-Spangled Banner“. Bagpiper Eric Rigler played “Amazing Grace” as the casket was moved to its grave site and placed on a plinth. There, burial rites were given, followed by a last 21-gun salute members of the armed services fired three volleys and a bugler played “Taps“. At that time, four Navy F/A-18 fighter jets flew over in missing man formation, and the flag that flew over the Capitol during President Reagan’s 1981 inauguration was folded by the honor guard and was presented to Nancy Reagan by Captain James Symonds, the commanding officer of the USS Ronald Reagan.
When Nancy Reagan died in 2016, she was buried beside the grave of her late husband.
Medical Mystery: Did Reagan Have Alzheimer’s While President
During this presidential election season, Allan B. Schwartz, a professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology & Hypertension at Drexel University College of Medicine, is writing about medical mysteries in the Oval Office. Today, his subject is the 40th president.
At age 70, Ronald Reagan was the oldest person ever to be inaugurated U.S. president.
Known as the Great Communicator, he had a sense of humor that was legendary, and sometimes targeted on his own age.
He is quoted to have said: “I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I am in a Cabinet meeting.”
Another time, he said, “To show you how youthful I am, I intend to campaign in all 13 states.”
But some incidents weren’t so funny. At a 1984 photo session at the president’s Santa Barbara ranch, a reporter called out a question about arms control. Reagan answered: “Well, we uh, well . . . I guess, uh, well, we uh . . .” His wife, Nancy, came to rescue, prompting him with a quiet, “We’re doing the best we can.”
Smiling, Reagan called out loudly, “We’re doing the best we can!”
In 1985, news broke that the administration had supplied weapons to Iran for a hostage exchange, and millions of dollars plus guns were routed to right-wing “Contra” guerrillas in Nicaragua.
Many wondered whether this was a cover-up, or whether Reagan really did forget.
Did Reagan have Alzheimer’s disease while he was in office?
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Death And State Funeral Of Ronald Reagan
|Ronald Reagan’s remains lie in state in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol|
|This article is part of a series about|
On June 5, 2004, Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, died after having suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for nearly a decade. Reagan was the first former U.S. president to die since Richard Nixon in 1994. At the age of 93 years and 120 days, Reagan was the longest-lived U.S. president in history until November 12, 2006, when his record was then surpassed by Gerald Ford. His seven-day state funeral followed. After Reagan’s death, his body was taken from his Bel Air, Los Angeles home to the Kingsley and Gates Funeral Home in Santa Monica, California to prepare the body for burial. On June 7, Reagan’s casket was transported by hearse and displayed at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, then flown to Washington, D.C. on June 9 for a service, public viewing and tributes at the U.S. Capitol.
Screen Actors Guild Presidency
The Dick Powell Showten-gallon hat
Reagan was first elected to the Board of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild in 1941, serving as an alternate member. After World War II, he resumed service and became third vice president in 1946. When the SAG president and six board members resigned in March 1947 due to the union’s new bylaws on conflict of interest, Reagan was elected president in a special election. He was subsequently re-elected six times, in 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951 and 1959. He led the SAG through implementing the 1947 TaftHartley Act, various labor-management disputes, and the Hollywood blacklist era. First instituted in 1947 by Studio executives who agreed that they would not employ anyone believed to be or to have been Communists or sympathetic with radical politics, the blacklist grew steadily larger during the early 1950s as the U.S. Congress continued to investigate domestic political subversion.
Also during his tenure, Reagan was instrumental in securing residuals for television actors when their episodes were re-run, and later, for motion picture actors when their studio films aired on TV.
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Could Someone Run The Country With Alzheimer’s Disease
Ron Reagan says father, Ronald, showed early signs while in office.
Family Feud: Reagan’s Sons Fight Over Alzheimer’s
Jan. 17, 2011 — Six years after finishing his second term as the president of the United States, Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s — a devastating neurological disease that impairs memory, judgment and reasoning. But the former president’s son, Ron Reagan, says he saw the early signs of Alzheimer’s while his father was still in office.
“It wasn’t anything that obvious. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh my God, he doesn’t remember he’s president,’ Ron Reagan said in an exclusive interview with ABC News. “It was just, I had an inkling that there might be something going on.”
Ron Reagan recounts what he calls the early signs in his new book, “My Father at 100: A Memoir.”
Alzheimer’s disease, which is estimated to affect up to 5.1 million people in the U.S. according to the National Institute on Aging, is an irreversible and progressive brain disease that affects a person’s ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living. But subtler changes in memory and mood can signal the disease’s early stages.
The Former President’s Son Now Says That Surgeons Saw Signs Of It Back In 1989
Ronald Reagan in 1985.
The Washington Post’s Stephen Lowman has an early look at Ron Reagan’s new book about his father, which will soon be released to coincide with what would have been the former president’s 100th birthday. Specifically, Lowman highlights passages dealing with Reagan’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, which was formally diagnosed in 1994 . The most startling revelation may be this:
n 1989, doctors operating on Reagan expressed their belief he was suffering from the degenerative disease.
Ron Reagan writes that in July 1989, his father was thrown off a horse while visiting friends in Mexico. He received medical attention at a hospital in San Diego. When surgeons opened the presidents skull to relieve pressure they “detected what they took to be probable signs of Alzheimers disease.” But no formal diagnosis was given.
Of course, from the earliest days of his presidency, there were those who questioned Reagan’s mental faculties. At 69, he was the oldest man ever elected to the White House, and he was frequently portrayed by critics as detached, overly relaxed and generally uninterested in — or even oblivious to — the day-to-day details of governing. In his book, Ron Reagan makes reference to a particular incident that fueled this talk: Reagan’s rambling, stumbling closing statement at the end of his first presidential debate with Walter Mondale in 1984:
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Parsing Ronald Reagans Words For Early Signs Of Alzheimers
WASHINGTON Even before Ronald Reagan became the oldest elected president, his mental state was a political issue. His adversaries often suggested his penchant for contradictory statements, forgetting names and seeming absent-mindedness could be linked to dementia.
In 1980, Mr. Reagan told me that he would resign the presidency if White House doctors found him mentally unfit. Years later, those doctors and key aides told me they had not detected any changes in his mental abilities while in office.
Now a clever new analysis has found that during his two terms in office, subtle changes in Mr. Reagans speaking patterns linked to the onset of dementia were apparent years before doctors diagnosed his Alzheimers disease in 1994.
The findings, published in The Journal of Alzheimers Disease by researchers at Arizona State University, do not prove that Mr. Reagan exhibited signs of dementia that would have adversely affected his judgment and ability to make decisions in office.
But the research does suggest that alterations in speech one day might be used to predict development of Alzheimers and other neurological conditions years before symptoms are clinically perceptible.
Detection of dementia at the earliest stages has become a high priority. Many experts now believe that yet-to-be-developed treatments are likely to be effective at preventing or slowing progression of dementia only if it is found before it significantly damages the brain.
Families Of People With Progressive Cognitive Disease Need Care Support Too
Those living with dementia and their families are often regulated to the shadows and left alone to manage outside of normal society. But staying connected with a circle of family and friends is beneficial and supportive for both patients and their caring loved ones. The challenges of specialized dementia care can press families into their own sadness, anxiety and anger. Regular respite care for at-home caregivers is essential, as dementia typically advances slowly over the years.
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Ongoing Support And Improved Dementia
The Reagans open disclosure of the former presidents anticipated mental decline brought relief to Alzheimers families across the world. Today, organizations like the Alzheimers Association offer a caregiver center stocked with reliable information, programs and resources and a 24-hour hotline, 1-800-272-3900, to help with support at any stage of dementia. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at 800-352-9424 also lists an online resource page of dementia organizations .
How Ronald Reagan’s Speeches Could Help Diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease
He’s one of the most well-known Alzheimer’s patients in history, and now his speeches may help doctors identify early signs of the disease.
In a new study, researchers analyzed former president Ronald Reagans speaking patterns during his two terms in office, and found early indicators of dementia in his speeches prior to his Alzheimers diagnosis in 1994.
It’s hoped that the findings could provide doctors with a way to detect the disease earlier. It’s a goal researchers have been trying to reach for years, says Richard Lipton, MD, director of the Division of Cognitive Aging and Dementia at Montefiore Medical Center, who wasn’t involved in the study.
Using transcripts of the 46 news conferences Reagan held while president, Arizona State University researchers Visar Berisha, PhD, and Julie Liss, PhD searched for early signs of dementia, including the use of repetitive words, swapping out specific nouns for non-specific words such as thing, and a decline in the use of complex words.
They also compared Reagans speech to that of former president George H. W. Bush, using 101 sessions Bush held during his four years in office. They found no signs of dementia in Bushs word use over time, according to the study, which was published in The Journal of Alzheimers Disease.
The diagnostic tests are not designed to show signs of Alzheimers, but to eliminate other diseases, Dr. Lipton says. While it would be ideal to find a simple blood test, that hasn’t happened.
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Ronald Reagans Journey With Alzheimers And Advice For Caregivers
The one thing that Alzheimers taught me pretty much right out of the gate was that it was time to grow up. If I was going to really show up and be present and be hopefully some kind of positive force in that, I had to get off the past, Patti Davis says of her father, Ronald Reagan, and his Alzheimers diagnosis.Photo by David Hume Kennerly.
Former president Ronald Reagan disclosed his Alzheimers disease diagnosis in 1994. He died a decade later. His daughter, Patti Davis, chronicles her familys experiences with the diseases in her latest book, Floating in the Deep End: How Caregivers can See Beyond Alzheimer’s. Critics also review the latest movie releases, including Dear Evan Hansen and The Guilty.
From this Episode:
Research Advancements Are Vital To Help Prevent Slow And End Progressive Cognitive Disorders
The Reagan Institute is credited with an expansion in the biological portion of Alzheimers research and has raised millions of dollars to back biomedical scientists in developing and testing treatments. Thatchers backing continues the Alzheimers Research UKs pursuit of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical therapies and a vision for a world where people are free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia a world in which those affected by dementia and Alzheimers reflect the inscription on Reagans headstone, there is purpose and worth to each and every life.
How does Reagans and Thatchers personal stories inspire you to help fight dementia?
An award-winning journalist who has documented stories in nearly 20 countries, Beth Lueders is an author, writer and speaker who frequently reports on diverse topics, including aging and health issues for both U.S. and international corporations.
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