Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ronald Reagan & Alzheimer's Disease

In Ron Reagan's memoir, My Father at 100, he notes that Alzheimer's Disease changes in the brain can be found years and even decades before the first symptoms are noted.

"The questions, then, of whether my father suffered from the beginning stages of Alzheimer's while in office more or less answers itself," he admits. 

In a review of the younger Reagan's book, Dr. Lawrence K. Altman observes the following mileposts in the president's life:

*  His mother, Nelle, had died of "senility."

*  At age 69 in 1980, he became the oldest man elected to the presidency of the US, serving eight years.

*  In 1989 at age 78 he fell from a horse in Mexico and "his doctors detected probable signs of Alzheimer's in removing a blood clot that formed between his skill and brain."

*  In 1990 he began taking annual mental-status tests, which at first showed no signs of memory loss.

*  These tests first showed evidence of AD in the summer of 1993, when he was 82 years old.

*  In 1994, the former president wrote his open letter to the American public disclosing his illness.

*  He died at age 93 on June 5, 2004.  As is typical of the disease, he had been unable to eat or drink, and his kidneys failed.