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Ronald Reagan and his silent battle with Alzheimer’s Disease

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Ronald Reagan’s career began in Hollywood. A producer and actor, he was involved in over 50 movies, his first being released in 1937. After accomplishing a reputation as a Hollywood A-list actor, Reagan moved into politics. Although a registered Democrat, he began endorsed the presidential candidacies of the likes of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. After becoming politically involved in the Californian government, he was elected as Governor of California in 1966. He launched his first presidential campaign in 1976, and then again in 1980, after which he was elected as the 40th President of the United States and the oldest president ever elected into office.

From 1981 to 1985 he was the President of the U.S., enduring many diplomatic complications and responding to many situations of crisis. One personal crisis that affected him was having cancerous polyps removed from his colon in 1985. After a successful three-hour operation, he resumed his presidential duties that very same day. (Click to find out more about colon cancer. Later that year, Reagan also had skin cancer cells removed from his nose. The American people – convinced of his performance as their leader – re-elected Reagan for his second term of presidency from 1985 to 1989, after which President George Bush succeeded him.

Nearly five years after his presidency, Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. In a hand-written letter to the American people, he outlined the situation concerning his illness, stating: “I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease… At the moment I feel just fine. I intend to live the remainder of the years God gives me on this earth doing the things I have always done… I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life.”

Alzheimer’s Disease is a neurological disorder which causes brain cells to die. Alzheimer’s, difficult to diagnose in its early stages, becomes progressively worse as time passes. Its general symptoms include a loss of memory, which begins with the short-term and progressively depletes the long-term memory. Alzheimer’s patients usually display a change in personality, become irritable, have mood swings, and withdraw themselves as the memory loss begins to affect their daily routines so much, they are no longer able to complete routine daily tasks. Alzheimer’s, in its progressive years, is fatal. Click to find out more about Alzheimer’s Disease.

As his years with Alzheimer’s progressed, Reagan’s memory began to deteriorate more and more, with his wife Nancy being one of the only people he was still able to recognize. His family decided to keep Reagan away from the public eye, and let him live in quiet isolation, maintaining that he would rather the world to remember him as he was before he became ill.

Ronald Reagan passed away at home on June 5, 2004. His wife Nancy released a statement saying: “My family and I would like the world to know that President Ronald Reagan has passed away after 10 years of Alzheimer’s disease at 93 years of age.” Since his death Nancy Reagan has been advocating for stem-cell research, believing therein lays the cure.

Other famous people to have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s include Charlton Heston.

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