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President Reagan Showed Early Signs Of Dementia

March 31, 2015

This is most interesting.

I recall many  years ago reading Reporting Live by Lesley Stahl and how she described President Reagan as having a glazed over, spaced out look.  There are few who think that Reagan was not to some degree impaired while sitting in the Oval Office.  More evidence mounts to support that idea of Reagan suffering from dementia while in office..  To what degree that impacted him or as a result our nation will be left for more research and historical analysis to decide.

In an interview, Dr. Berisha said he did not set out to study Mr. Reagan, but found he was the only individual with progressive dementia for whom long-term transcript information is publicly available. He chose Mr. Bush because he was most comparable in age to Mr. Reagan at the start of their presidencies, and both men served during roughly the same decade.

Age and era are important issues for comparison because they can influence language measures. Mr. Reagan was 69 when he became president, and Mr. Bush was 64. Mr. Reagan died at 93 in 2004.

The researchers found no changes in the speaking patterns of Mr. Bush, who is not known to have developed Alzheimer’s. But in Mr. Reagan’s speech, two measures — use of repetitive words, and substituting nonspecific terms like “thing” for specific nouns — increased toward the end of Mr. Reagan’s presidency, compared with its start. A third measure, his use of unique words, declined.

The researchers’ methodology was not designed to determine whether the changes were present in Mr. Reagan’s rare early news conferences, Dr. Berisha said. Other factors — like a deliberate decision to reduce the complexity of his speaking style, or the injury, surgery and anesthesia from the assassination attempt made on him in 1981 — could account for the language changes they found, Dr. Berisha said.

In 1984, Mr. Reagan’s poor performance in his first presidential debate with Vice President Walter Mondale renewed questions about his mental capacity. A study published in 1988 suggested that Mr. Reagan had some cognitive impairment during his debates with President Jimmy Carter and Mr. Mondale, but the authors said that their findings were insufficient to conclude that the changes affected.

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