What disease did ronald reagan have?

Ronald Reagan, or the Gipper as he was fondly called, was one of America’s most beloved presidents. He served two terms in office and is remembered for his charisma and wit. However, behind the scenes, he struggled with a disease that eventually took a toll on his health. In this article about ‘What disease did Ronald Reagan have?’, we will delve into the medical condition that plagued this iconic statesman till his demise.

Early Life

Before we dive into what ailed him, let’s take a quick look at Ronnie’s early life. This Hollywood actor turned politician had an illustrious career spanning several decades.

Born in Tampico, Illinois on February 6th 1911 to parents Jack and Nelle Reagan, young Ron rose to stardom in Hollywood thanks to roles such as George “The Gipper” Gipp in ‘Knute Rockne: All-American’, which would eventually serve as inspiration for both his nickname and political platform.

Political Career

After serving multiple terms as governor of California, including surviving an assassination attempt (talk about being bulletproof!), Ronald became president in 1981 after defeating Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter by winning all but one state.

While he led many important initiatives during his time at Pennsylvania Avenue, like working towards peace between America and Russia through disarmament agreements (remember “Trust but Verify”), introducing “trickle-down economics,” where lower taxes for businesses supposedly lead to higher employment rates (we can debate about whether it worked or not), however there were underlying health issues he grappled with throughout his double term (double trouble).

The Diagnosis

One of these illnesses stood out above others – Alzheimer’s Disease.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive form of dementia characterized by memory loss accompanied by impaired thinking/poor judgement abilities among other symptoms.Its slow deteriorating nature made it difficult for Ronald Reagan to fulfil his duties in the second part of his presidency.

Early Signs

Reagan’s wife Nancy suspected something was wrong when her husband faired poorly at public speaking engagements and had difficulty recognizing people he personally met with. She encouraged him to consult a doctor, which he finally did after leaving office.

In 1994, President Reagan himself announced that he had Alzheimer’s disease: “I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life.” The statement was an early recognition of a battle few politicians — or anyone else — wanted to acknowledge out loud (Sad right?).

But What Exactly Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

At its core, Alzheimer’s is essentially nerve cell death located in areas such as your hippocampus (significant for creating new memories) ,amygdala (a neural hub for emotions),and cerebral cortex(where most thinking occurs).This leads ultimately causes cognitive impairment.

Some common symptoms include:

  • Memory loss
  • Challenges with planning/problem-solving abilities
  • Mood swings and irritability.

Most forms of this degenerative health issue would impact one’s ability to work but more severe cases could make performing usually mundane tasks like bathing/feeding oneself nearly impossible 🙁

But fortunately what we know today about Alzheimers compared to what we knew about four decades ago has improved considerably by leaps and bounds (Thank God)!

Was Anything Done During His Presidency?

It’s hard not recognize the irony that Reagan while being diagnosed with one of America’s most debilitating disease also happens so became someone who greatly impacted funding NIH research(Ahem..he funded doubling every year)!

Accordingly under Ronald Raygun(cue awesome nickname)’s administration; funding allocated towards uncovering how genetics ties into AD development increased dramatically. Because our understanding over those years grew so too did better treatments become available improving many lives.

Later Years

After he publicly disclosed his diagnosis, Reagan retired from public life and retreated to his home in Los Angeles,where Nancy became crucial in implementing therapy sessions o keep her husband’s memory loss at bay. The remaining years of his life were spent within various assisted living facilities mostly secluded from the outside world until suffering pneumonia eventually let to his passing(the Great communicator left lasting impact on our grand nation).

What Ronald Reagan accomplished as a leader was perhaps overshadowed as time went by due to health concerns,but a testament can be held towards how important he recognized fighting diseases such as AD becoming. Even with difficult periods later on he retains fond spots within American hearts.


In conclusion regarding ‘what disease did Ronald Reagan have?’ Unfortunately like many others,the Gipper suffered late stage Alzheimer’s Disease after long post presidency career(especially movie); however this never diminished how much he had contributed earlier during both private/public capacity.Hopefully greater awareness is raised so no one else ever has undergo something similar!

Remember folks always learn about every illness/symptom you may face!!

So Stay Safe and Thank you for reading!!