Today’s question is not whether you’re smarter than a fifth-grader, but rather, are you smarter than a 65-year-old?

We Medicare recipients can get an annual physical at no cost. The various tests include typical checkup goings-on: heart, lungs, blood pressure, eyes, ears, reflexes, etc. However, this was the first physical I’ve had with a cognitive component – a test to spot signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s and the like.

Spoiler alert: The cognitive test was interesting. The first questions were about my ability to handle money, take my own medications, cook a meal, drive a car – things like that. Next, I had to repeat three random words such as “cat, mountain and tire” several times. Then, I drew a clock with all the requisite numbers and had to correctly position the hands to represent 8:45.

Finally, after the clock drawing and assorted chitchat, I had to repeat those three words again. Such a trick play; I’d already moved on from cat, mountain and tire. I was so over it.

A glutton for punishment, I took another cognitive test for fun a couple of days ago – this one online. Let me first say that if instructions suggest not using a phone, pay attention. The rapid response exercises were made all the more difficult with my penchant for tapping more than one key at once. No wonder test folks suggested a laptop or desktop with a mouse.

The first test wasn’t too difficult. I simply had to click on the button that lights up in a group of four; I easily managed to keep up. With the second test, I was to look at a list of a dozen or so unrelated words. After that, I had to choose the word I’d seen on the list from three options. That multiple-choice had a dozen or so iterations.

The third test wasn’t complicated, just fast. It displayed letters of the alphabet, one after another, in quick succession. When the letter was the same as the one before it, I was to click the button. Sounds easy, right? I’d tap the onscreen button, but usually not quickly enough or with enough pressure. It was a disaster. “Nice try,” the test said, and supposedly, I can’t take it again for 90 days!

And here I thought I was still relatively sharp for “pushing 70.”

Now it seems that Republican Sen. and physician Bill Cassidy (R-La.) thinks aging folks in all three branches of government should also undergo cognitive testing. On Oct. 17, Axios co-founder Mike Allen interviewed Cassidy for Axios on HBO. The gastroenterologist noted that one begins a “rapid decline in mental acuity beginning in your 80s.

“Anybody in a position of responsibility who may potentially be on that slope, that is of concern. And I’m saying this as a doctor … I’m told that there have been senators in the past who, at the end of their Senate terms were senile.”

The tally of today’s leaders and their ages is worth a look: President Joe Biden, 78; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 81; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, 70; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 79; Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, 83; and former President Donald Trump, 75 (who decried Cassidy’s assessment).

So, I wonder how fast their fingers can navigate clicking on circles …

(1) comment

Tom Conners

Age should not be a matter,it is term limits for ALL politicians that matter.

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