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Age as Factor in Election

Posted Sep 12 2008 1:38pm

Those opposed to McCain's candidacy cite his age as being a deterrant. How can he be quick and agile about decision-making with a 72 year old brain? And he even has had a serious medical condition, to boot.

At risk of sounding like a political blog, which this is not, I want to suggest that it is not Mr. McCain's age that is a problem to me. His mind appears as sound as ever. It's many of his beliefs, which he held when he was much younger, that frighten me to think we'll have more of the same leadership that we've had for the past 8 years.

That said, what about the age factor? What do the experts tell us about the mental soundness of a 72 year old person? Can we trust that someone of this age has the energy, resourcefulness, and concentration to lead, to inspire?

June Kronholz of The Wall Street Journal Online writes that Dr. Neil Resnick, chief of geriatric medicine at University of Pittsburgh says that a "45-year-old and a 75-year-old absolutely have the same mental capacity...Energy is a function of health rather than aging."

Kronholz writes that people begin to lose about 1% of their organ function each year by the time they reach somewhere between ages 18-30. But, organs have 4-6 times more capacity than they need, so losing 1% each year is negligible in terms of their functioning.

What matters more than age is our genetic heritage. Dr. John Rowe, head of the MacArthur Foundation research program on aging, said that 30% of longevity and 1/2 of age-related changes in the brain are accounted for by our genes.

Yes, as we age it takes longer to retrieve certain information, but life experience and wisdom more than compensate for the seconds' lag in remembering facts and figures. People in certain professions ...diplomats, orchestra conductors, poets, writers...peak in their 60's or 70s, suggests Dr. David Reuben, head of geriatric medicine at UCLA.

So, should age be a factor in deciding whether to vote for someone? Apparently not, if you just consider the capacity of the aging brain. More on target for your voting preference is the views of the candidate on major issues you care deeply about.

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