I recently read this great article about Reagan's change in speech pattern. It raised the question if he had early onset dementia while in office.

  • 3
    Possibly more suited to skeptics.SE?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 5:29
  • 7
    Considering that the scientists in the article were unwilling to do more than speculate, I don't see how we could answer this better than "We don't know." Any other answer is going to be opinion-based.
    – Brythan
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 10:45
  • It's been theorized but, given he's dead, there's no way to confirm at this point.
    – user1530
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 14:12
  • @blip, re "at this point": we shouldn't rule out that some unknown future posthumous diagnostic method might provide adequate confirmation.
    – agc
    Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 6:17
  • @Machavity You should add HTTPS if applicable to links in old posts when you bump them (I can't edit because it's only one character). Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 23:44

2 Answers 2


Early onset dementia is usually defined as affecting people younger than age 65.

Reagan was three weeks from his 70th birthday when taking office. Reagan died aged 93.

Therefore, it is highly unlikely he had early onset dementia.


Various articles make the claim, however the original statement that the articles are based on seems to imply that it is a matter of predicting the future onset of Alzheimer's based on subtle differences in speech.

Parsing Ronald Reagan’s Words for Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

The findings, published in The Journal of Alzheimer’s 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 Alzheimer’s and other neurological conditions years before symptoms are clinically perceptible.

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