August 28, 2008

Thoughts on Thatcher's Dementia

ResearchBlogging.org Mo wrote a post over at Neurophilosophy regarding a report Baroness Thatcher's declining mental health. Here's the comment I made there while responding to a previous commenter's remark:

"Polomint38's comment is especially poignant in light of a new article on ScienceDaily today: Even Without Dementia, Mental Skills Decline Years Before Death.

"It isn't very surprising that senior citizens generally experience decline anyway, it is interesting how this new longitudinal study shows how some skills can decline upto 15 years before death.

"Without being cruel to Thatcher, one can only wonder how much of an effect her mental decline could have had on her political savvy, and indeed for all politicians of a certain age. And by contrast, this makes the new breed of "younger" politicians look more impressive. Think Tony Blair (elected PM at age 43) and David Miliband (age 43). It is easy to think that younger politicians may be criticised for insufficient or lack of political experience, but at least we can surmise that they are reasonably sharp enough (cognitively speaking) to handle the pressures and the issues."

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Thorvaldsson, V., Hofer, S.M., Berg, S., Skoog, I., Sacuiu, S., Johansson, B. (2008). Onset of terminal decline in cognitive abilities in individuals without dementia. Neurology DOI: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000312379.02302.ba

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