The time has come once again to name names. Donald Trump is draped in red flags.
I usually save my political rants for more general social themes but, once in a while, I feel compelled to get specific. If you like my Trump posts you are in for a treat. If you don’t…. who am I kidding? No way Trumpers read my blog!
Several years ago I worked as a Certified Nurse Aide. Seldom have I felt as entitled to the space I take up as when I was changing dementia patients’ diapers. (Not sure what that says about me, but I digress.)
Years before that, I watched first one grandmother and then the other completely forget everything and everyone.
But, I’m a nerd, so my horror led me to research. I have seen and read quite a bit about dementia and, with my family history, it’s seldom far from my mind.
I say all this because, when I tell you that Donald Trump is in trouble, this is my basis for comparison.
Last month video made the rounds of him seemingly losing the word ‘origins.’ He went for it on his mental shelf and it just wasn’t there.
But the really worrying thing is that you can tell he knows. He knows he said the wrong word but can’t do anything about it. He doubles back on his thought and restates it. That goes well so he gets brave and tries again.
“The Mueller Report, I wish, covered the oranges….”
This is called aphasia, and it’s a symptom of dementia. Specifically, something called non-fluent variant Primary Progressive Aphasia (nfvPPA.) The University of California Wellness and Aging Center writes,
“Because it primarily affects the front part of the brain, nfvPPA is considered a subtype of a large group of brain conditions called frontotemporal dementia (FTD).”
Patients usually begin to show signs in their 50s or 60s. Donald is 72.
Many people think of dementia as the granny who goes shopping in her housecoat. Confused, befuddled and comical, depictions of this disease are glib and play for laughs.
“The nonfluent PPA variant accounts for about 20% of all people with frontotemporal dementia.
“People with nfvPPA gradually have more trouble expressing themselves, even though they still understand the meaning of words…. Reading and writing skills usually remain good…. They may have increasing difficulty with pronouncing or mixing up sounds in familiar words.”
Trump almost tweets more than he speaks, if not for his tendency to ramble at the podium.
Which, incidentally, is another red flag according to Science Alert:
“New research suggests that rambling and non-specific speech could be early signs of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.”
The article cites, among others, Ronald Reagan as an example of a still-functional person who showed early signs of language difficulties.
The findings were presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston by Janet Cohen Sherman. She is Clinical Director of the Psychology Assessment Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.
The Guardian sums it up,
“Scientists compared the language abilities of 22 healthy young individuals, 24 healthy older individuals and 22 people with MCI [mild cognitive impairment].
“When given an exercise in which they had to join up three words, for instance “pen”, “ink” and “paper”, the healthy volunteers typically joined the three in a simple sentence, while the MCI group gave circuitous accounts of going to the shop and buying a pen.”
The Guardian continues:
“They were much less concise in conveying information, the sentences they produced were much longer, they had a hard time staying on point and I guess you could say they were much more roundabout in getting their point across,” said Sherman. “It was a very significant difference.”
Sherman stressed that just being a windbag is not the issue. The issue is deteriorating mental precision.
“Another study, based on White House press conference transcripts, found striking changes in Ronald Reagan’s speech over the course of his presidency, while George HW Bush, who was a similar age when president, showed no such decline.”
So, not only is this a plausible scenario, it has happened before.
Dr Lawrence K Altman bears witness to this for the New York Times. He writes,
“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. Reagan’s speaking patterns linked to the onset of dementia were apparent years before doctors diagnosed his Alzheimer’s disease in 1994.”
His doctors might not have been concerned, and even Dr. Altman insists that Reagan was not impaired enough to have affected his Presidential judgment (although that would be a dandy excuse for a few things.) But not everyone was so confident.
The article begins,
“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.”
Reagan was 73 in 1980.
The sample size of the language study is small, but it overwhelmingly supports my own observations and those of many others. Often the first signs of dementia are subtle linguistic anomalies.
And a guy like Donald is the kind of guy who would hide it. Deny, deny, deny.
Not to mention an old man who is estranged from his wife, in trouble with the law and apparently spends a shitton of time watching TV and surfing social media:
“Depression and social withdrawal are common features of nfvPPA.”
I am neither the first nor the most qualified person to suggest that Donald is suffering from some kind of mental deficiency. It would be easy to brush off such claims as haters hating.
But even if I thought my personal axe grinding makes any difference, the man speaks for himself.