Ron Reagan Jr.: ‘Shivers of Concern’ About Dad’s Mental State in First Term

By Cullen Dirner

Jan 14, 2011 2:59pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Former President Ronald Reagan — who diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease five years after leaving the presidency – elicited “shivers of concern” about his mental state as early as 1984, during his first term in office, according to a new book by his son, Ron Jr. In his forthcoming memoir, “My Father at 100,” Ronald Reagan Jr. writes that he grew concerned that something was wrong with his father “beyond mellowing” in the early 1980s. He goes on to say that – given what science has learned about when symptoms of Alzheimer’s arise – the question of whether he was suffering from the disease while in office “more or less answers itself.” “Three years into his first term as president, I felt the first shivers of concern that something beyond mellowing was affecting my father,” Reagan Jr. writes, according to an excerpt in the new issue of Parade magazine. “I don’t want to give the impression that my father was mumbling incoherently during this or any period. But by the time he turned 76, he had survived a near-fatal shooting and surgery for colon cancer. As old men will, he’d learned to conserve his energy for crucial moments,” he continues. Reagan also writes that he believes his father would have resigned the presidency had he been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s while in office: “Had the diagnosis been made in, say, 1987, would he have stepped down? I believe he would have,” he writes. “Today we are aware that the changes associated with Alzheimer’s can be in evidence years, even decades, before identifiable symptoms arise. The question, then, of whether my father suffered from the beginning stages of the disease while in office more or less answers itself.”

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