Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 22 Share on Twitter 2 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Exclusive to OpEdNews:
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/14/19

How Old is Too Old to Run for President? A Gerontologist Ponders This Critical Question for the 2020 Election

By       (Page 2 of 2 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     (# of views)   3 comments
Author 56926
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Bernard Starr
Become a Fan
  (10 fans)
- Advertisement -

What about the lifespans of previous presidents? Do they inform us about the prospects for today's candidates? Not really. Comparisons are confounded by the acceleration of life expectancy from 40 years, which, as noted, was common in early America. Although all past presidents beat age 40, their ages at death were wide-ranging. Excluding John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated at 46, their lifespans ranged from 53 years (James K. Polk) to 94 years (George H. W. Bush).

Of the 44 U.S. presidents (Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms) 33 were less than age 60 when they took the office--and only one, Donald Trump, over age 70 (70 years, 7 months, 7 days).

Yet, only 12 of the 24 presidents prior to 1900 lived beyond age 70: John Adams-90, Thomas Jefferson-83, James Madison-85, James Monroe-73, John Quincy Adams-80, Andrew Jackson-78, Martin Van Buren-79, John Tyler-71, Millard Fillmore-74, James Buchanan-77, Rutherford B. Hayes-70 Grover Cleveland-71

Of the sixteen presidents since 1900 now deceased only six lived beyond age 80: Herbert Hoover-90, Harry Truman-88, Richard Nixon-81, Gerald Ford-94, Ronald, Reagan-93, George H. W. Bush-94.

- Advertisement -

While the public may fear that an elderly president might not live through his or her term in office, more worrisome is the prospect of an older president maintaining health, particularly mental acuity, in order to carry out the demanding duties of the Oval Office. Are these legitimate concerns?

Despite ageist stereotypes, the vast majority of older Americans remain active and productive members of society. And most older Americans are relatively healthy; 95 percent of those over age 65 live independently in the community. Add to that a finding reported in the Journal of clinical psychiatry that older adults scored higher on psychological well-being than young and middle-aged adults.

For the last two decades, I have been a producer and host in a video production company that creates short documentaries("Active Aging Stories") about extraordinary seniors. They teach us that passion, creativity, and zest for living have no age limit and are available to everyone. For example, ninety-two-year-old documentary filmmaker George Stoney was still teaching full-time at New York University (NYU) and inspiring young filmmakers. Edith O'Hara founder of the 13th Street Repertory Company in New York City continued her passion for theater in her ninth decade. Pete Seeger confirmed that aging did not interrupt his creativity and passion for music. One of our producers, Rita Satz, a former producer, writer, and investigative reporter at WNBC news, registered for a poetry workshop at age 90 where she wrote poems for the first time. Two years later her book of poetry, There You Are, was published by a commercial press.

- Advertisement -

Yet aging is a risk factor for a host of illnesses, including Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. And vulnerability to diseases increases with each decade after age 60. But can we be assured that younger presidents would have better physical and mental health than older ones? In fact, at least ten past presidents who were less than age 70 when elected were known to suffer serious illnesses while in office. Several tried to hide their illnesses, suggesting that other Presidents in addition to these 10 may have successfully concealed health problems.

Of the 10, 9 were less than age 65 and six of these less than age 60. The array of their illnesses included obesity, nephritis, high blood pressure and heart problems, strokes, mental disorders, paralysis, Crohn's disease, Addison's disease, and hyperthyroidism.

All previous presidents were men. Does the fact that females in the US live on average five years longer than males suggest that women candidates may be better bets for health and longevity in the oval office?

In the final analysis, though, we may never know how long a person will live, or who will suffer a debilitating or catastrophic illness. All we can be sure of is the present moment--the here-and-now, the great equalizer that belongs to everyone.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

- Advertisement -

Well Said 2   Must Read 1   Supported 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Bernard Starr Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter Page       Linked In Page       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Bernard Starr, PhD, is a psychologist/gerontologist, and professor emeritus at CUNY, Brooklyn College where he directed a graduate program in gerontology. He is the founder, and for twenty-five years the managing editor, of the cutting edge (more...)
 

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Corporations Plan for Post-Middle-Class America

Mind Control: How Donald Trump Has Transformed Americans into Pavlov's Dogs

The Pandemic Disease of the 21st Century Is on the Rise

How Congress Became a 'Cathouse' of Prostitutes Paying Off Their Pimps

Reza Aslan: Why Aren't You a Jew?

Why Have Art Historians Been Silent About the Falsification of Biblical History in Artworks?

Comments Image Post Article Comment and Rate This Article

These discussions are not moderated. We rely on users to police themselves, and flag inappropriate comments and behavior. In accordance with our Guidelines and Policies, we reserve the right to remove any post at any time for any reason, and will restrict access of registered users who repeatedly violate our terms.

  • OpEdNews welcomes lively, CIVIL discourse. Personal attacks and/or hate speech are not tolerated and may result in banning.
  • Comments should relate to the content above. Irrelevant, off-topic comments are a distraction, and will be removed.
  • By submitting this comment, you agree to all OpEdNews rules, guidelines and policies.
          

Comment Here:   



You can enter 2000 characters. To remove limit, please click here.
Please login or register. Afterwards, your comment will be published.
 
Username
Password

Forgot your password? Click here and we will send an email to the address you used when you registered.
First Name
Last Name

I am at least 16 years of age
(make sure username & password are filled in. Note that username must be an email address.)

3 people are discussing this page, with 3 comments  Post Comment


Bernard Starr

Become a Fan
Author 56926
Follow Me on Twitter
(Member since Dec 7, 2010), 10 fans, 149 articles, 1 quicklinks, 291 comments
Facebook Page Twitter Page Linked In Page Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


  New Content

Those who reach the senior years are living longer, healthier, and more active lives than in previous generations.

Submitted on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 3:11:40 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (1+)
Help
 
Indent

David Wieland

Become a Fan
Author 512811

(Member since Jan 1, 2019), 38 comments
Not paid member and Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


Reply to Bernard Starr:   New Content

At 73, I have a keen interest in this topic. I remember reading in the last few months that one's odds of dying in the next year drops somewhat after 100 (I think it was). Isn't that a fun fact?

Regarding diet, it's certainly believable that nutrition is a significant factor, although vegetarianism is no guarantee of good nutrition.

Submitted on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at 2:32:56 AM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 

911TRUTH

Become a Fan
Author 15356

(Member since Apr 29, 2008), 26 fans, 2477 comments
Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


  New Content

The Constitution has a minimum age for POTUS but no maximum age for a reason.

Unless someone has a mental condition like dementia, age should not be an issue.

Submitted on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at 4:17:47 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 

 
Want to post your own comment on this Article? Post Comment