Donald Trump Family History of Alzheimer's Returns as Campaign Issue 1

Donald Trump, caught at an unguarded moment, stares blankly. He has a family history of Alzheimer’s disease and questions have been raised about his own mental health. (Photo: Getty)

Donald Trump’s family history of Alzheimer’s disease, an issue during his heated primary campaign, has returned to center stage in the presidential election, driven largely by repeated attacks on Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s health. He may already be exhibiting early signs of the disease.

Trump, 70, will be the oldest president ever elected if he wins in November. But his health is largely a mystery.

He has skirted the issue by releasing only a four-paragraph letter from a family doctor. Both the letter and the doctor have been widely discredited.

Then, in a strange reality television show moment, he released the results of a physical on the “Dr. Oz” show. The host Dr. Mehmet Oz, was called out last year for being a “charlatan” and a “quack” by a group of top doctors from around the country.

Trump has credited his “family genes” for his supposedly “excellent” health, but what he’s failed to disclose is his family history of the debilitating mental disease that struck his father Fred Trump.

In April, Trump’s incoherent answers and his seeming inability to remember even basic facts, sparked a slew of stories about his mental capacity and whether he was “unwell,” as as online culture Web site Salon stated it.

During a primary campaign stop in Pittsburgh, he gushed: “How’s Joe Paterno? We gonna bring that back? Right? How about that—how about that whole deal?”

Paterno was head coach of Penn State’s football team. He was forced to resign for covering up a child-molestation scandal involving one of his coaches. Trump seemed to be the only person in the room who didn’t realize Paterno died in 2012.

When Trump goes on a rant, he often seems to become confused and loses his train of thought, the site noted.

He also has a terrible time with facts that he ought to know off the top of his carrot-haired head.

During a primary campaign stop in Buffalo, NY, Trump couldn’t remember the date of the Sept. 11 terror attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.

“I was down there, and I watched our police and our firemen, down on 7-Eleven, down at the World Trade Center, right after it came down,” he said.

Trump also has a habit of making up events–like seeing Muslims cheering in New Jersey on Sept. 11–and swearing they are true. He also claims he was in New York City during the attack, when friends recall he was at his Florida estate.

His constant contradictions, like claiming he opposed the Iraq War when he clearly supported it, may be less an attempt at obfuscation, and due more simply to befuddlement. He may actually believe what he says, unable to recall what he really said previously.

While Trump’s gaffs are laughable and often dismissed as “Donald just being Donald,” they are also red flags for something far more serious. They are classic signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s.

The issue could easily be dismissed if Trump was forthcoming about his family’s medical history. But that’s the one thing (beside his tax returns) he’s diligently tried to cover up during both the primary and general election.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain’s nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes, according to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

In early and mid-stage Alzheimer’s, people often forget words or misplace objects, forget something they just read, repeat things over and over, have trouble making plans or organizing and fail to remember names and dates important to their work or lives, according to the group.

Trump’s behavior is certainly one early sign, but the more telling one is the fact that his father suffered from Alzheimer’s.

While medical science has yet to determine the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease, scientists do know that genes are involved. according to medical site WebMd.

In other words, it’s hereditary. If Trump’s father suffered from it, there is a good chance he could develop it as well.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s typically strikes people younger than age 65, according to the Mayo Clinic. But at Trump’s advanced age, the disease is much more common.

Ronald Reagan, the nation’s oldest president to date, exhibited the same subtle changes as Trump in speaking patterns linked to the onset of dementia while he was in office and well before doctors diagnosed his Alzheimer’s disease in 1994, according to The New York Times.

Like Trump, who would be even older when he takes office, Reagan was fine as long as he stuck to a prepared speech or teleprompter. But when he ad-libbed, as Trump typically does, the warning signs flashed red.

Of course, there are tests like brain scans that can spot lesions associated with the disease. Clinton’s detractors are insisting she undergo a brain scan because of her 2012 concussion.

But Trump is really the candidate who needs to have his head examined, in more ways than one.

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