By Timothy Weaver, Ph.D.

Let’s come right out and have an honest and open conversation about two octogenarians running for President. The Special Prosecutor, no psychologist or geriatric doctor, raised the issue of Biden’s “poor memory” in justifying not prosecuting Biden for sharing classified information. What should that mean to us?

I’ll start with the Mayo Clinic (it’s not a bad place to start). There is the occasional memory lapse that seems to increase with age and Mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The latter is the stage between the expected decline in memory and thinking that happens with age and the more severe decline of dementia. According to the Mayo Clinic, MCI may include memory, language, or judgment problems. Here are the symptoms of MCI:

  • You forget things more often.
  • You miss appointments or social events.
  • You lose your train of thought. Or you can’t follow the plot of a book or movie.
  • You have trouble following a conversation.
  • You find it hard to make decisions, finish a task, or follow instructions.
  • You start to have trouble finding your way around places you know well.
  • You begin to have poor judgment.
  • Your family and friends notice any of these changes.

Biden, who exhibits the first of these, does not, at least as reported to the public, exhibit any of the others. Here is what I do notice. When Trump and Biden are tired, exhausted, or stressed, they both exhibit similar examples of the first symptom—forgetting names or substituting names for the wrong places or people.

At age 83, I understand this condition quite well. The biggest change in my life is not suffering memory loss but not having the energy I had 25 years ago. When I am tired, I become more forgetful. After a long day, giving a national press conference would not only be difficult due to fatigue but also because of stress. But what does the science say? Tiredness, exhaustion, and stress, whether due to lack of sleep or simple aging, are the primary causes of short-term memory lapses. “You forget things more often.”

I conclude that the issue is not memory loss in either Trump or Biden but age-related fatigue and lack of energy to maintain an arduous work schedule. Trump is better at covering up his strange memory lapses because he comes across as energetic at times. However, in comparing Trump in 2020 with Trump in 2024, it is clear that age has caught up with him. He exhibits, at times, a very weak voice and the demeanor of a spent man. He looks exhausted. That did not happen in 2020.

We all age differently. I would not fear taking on a high stress, demanding intellectual job, but I know my energy level cannot be sustained as it could a couple of decades ago or even a decade ago. For this reason, the real matter before the voters is who steps in when the President is suffering from severe fatigue? With Biden, we know we can trust the second in command. With Trump, we cannot trust him to do anything right for the country, but his VP? Who will that be? JD Vance? Marjorie Taylor Green? Louise Stefanic? Lauren Boebert?

I won’t hesitate to vote for Biden because, first of all, I trust his judgment, his ability to make cogent decisions, follow detailed conversations, and do the right thing, not the expedient or self-serving thing. I will do this fully aware of his age-related issues.

If anything, this may be telling us that age limits should be imposed on running for federal office. One look at Mitch McConnell, frozen in time and space, should tell us that. I suggest 74 as the upper age limit for Senators, Representatives, Presidents, and Justices of the Supreme Court with the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Exception.

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