Is Biden Fit to Run the US? Doctors Worry His Gaffes Are Signs of 'Early Onset Dementia' - Report
22:22 GMT 20.08.2021 (Updated: 12:23 GMT 14.02.2023)
The oldest president in US history gave muddled answers to questions about events in Afghanistan in an interview with ABC this week and messed up details about his son. Some of his blunders were not televised, but they were disclosed when a full transcript of the interview was published the next day.
Following an interview concerning US President Joe Biden's management of the impending Afghanistan situation which received quite a mixed response given the fact that the president confused timelines and facts, questions have been raised about US President Joe Biden's mental health.
And several doctors, quoted by the Daily Mail, have expressed their concerns about how Biden is physically able to withstand such a demanding job.
The aforementioned interview transcript showed, for instance, that the president wrongly indicated that his late son Beau Biden served in the Navy in Afghanistan before correcting himself and stating that he actually served in the Army in Iraq. Moreover, from the version of the interview shown on TV, some bloopers and verbal knots of the president were cut or significantly reduced.
Biden has already had two brain aneurysms and a cardiac ailment that causes dizziness and confusion by forcing the muscle to pulse too quickly. Both illnesses are connected to memory problems and confusion, as well as dementia, according to cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra, who is quoted in the report.
"Certainly there's a link [between the conditions and cognitive decline]," Malhotra, the NHS consultant and expert in evidence-based medicine, said. "But just as a doctor observing him, given his medical history and age, I'm worried about early onset dementia. I would be worried about anyone exhibiting issues with recall and memory at Joe Biden's age."
Another specialist, Dr. Amit Bajaj, an associate professor of speech science at Emerson University in Boston, Massachusetts, reportedly concurred that Biden's rising incidence of gaffes could be due to deteriorating cognitive health as he gets older.
"He has a reputation for gaffes. It’s hard to say if it is interlacing with anticipatory anxiety. I think there are several contributing factors. Part of is the speech. Part of it is cognitively where he might be at because he is old," Bajaj told the outlet. "But the relative influence of any one of them is uncertain. It’s probably a mix of both."
© REUTERS / CARLOS BARRIAUS President Joe Biden grabs onto the railing after he stumbled while boarding Air Force One as he departs Washington on travel to Atlanta, Georgia to promote the $1.9 trillion coronavirus disease (COVID-19) aid package known as the American Rescue Plan, at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, US, March 19, 2021
US President Joe Biden grabs onto the railing after he stumbled while boarding Air Force One as he departs Washington on travel to Atlanta, Georgia to promote the $1.9 trillion coronavirus disease (COVID-19) aid package known as the American Rescue Plan, at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, US, March 19, 2021
© REUTERS / CARLOS BARRIA
However, in a medical assessment revealed in December 2019, Biden's personal physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor, stated that he was a "healthy and vigorous" man who was "fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency."
And, according to the report, citing Professor James Rowe, dementia and neurodegeneration expert at Cambridge University, Biden's memory lapses are "common" and "do not in themselves indicate a condition, let alone dementia."
"They are especially common when people are busy or tired after a long day, and over 50-years-old," Rowe said.
Rowe noted that many people over 50 are familiar with the "tip of the tongue" problem, "when a name does not come immediately to mind, or momentarily swapping names between people (or pets) close to them."
Biden's Medical History Probably Causing His Gaffes
Biden has established himself a certain reputation via a string of gaffes and blunders since the 78-year-old's successful presidential campaign in 2020. Earlier, he even called himself a "gaffe machine."
In 1988, while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, Biden suffered two brain aneurysms. To tackle the life-threatening problem, he underwent surgery. Aneurysms, which are bulging blood vessels that mainly originate in the brain or burst arteries, can cause memory impairments, such as trouble absorbing, retaining, and recalling information, according to scientists.
Biden also has atrial fibrillation, a condition in which the heart beats irregularly or rapidly, which was first diagnosed in 2003.
Last but not least, the US oldest president's age may be catching up with him in terms of an increased risk of dementia. After age 65, the chance of dementia increases every five years, and one in every six persons has it by the age of 80.
In the same interview with ABC, Biden caused particular surprise among the public when he said that the US has no troops in Syria, while according to estimates, at least 900 military personnel are present on the territory of the country torn apart by civil war.
In late July, the president forgot one of his reasons for running for president, and early in his term, he once referred to his vice president as "President Kamala Harris."
Since becoming president, Biden has had several mishaps, including falling three times in March while mounting the stairs of Air Force One. Last November, when playing with one of his dogs, he suffered hairline fractures in his foot and had to wear a protective boot for weeks. He also referred to his granddaughter as his late son Beau, who died in 2015 from brain cancer, and confused Syria and Libya at the G7 summit this June.