The Iron Lady’s Death Serves as Reminder that Alzheimer’s Can Attack Even the Most Powerful and Intellectually Active
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and former President Ronald Reagan both touched by Alzheimer’s and other dementias
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died today at the age of 87 following a stroke. Thatcher, Britain’s first female Prime Minister whose tough persona earned her the nickname, “The Iron Lady,” made few public appearances in recent years due to her struggle with dementia – an illness that also plagued her good friend and former U.S. President Ronald Reagan in his later years.
In a 2008 memoir, Thatcher’s daughter Carol described the horror of helplessly watching as her mother’s memory slipped away, clouding her recollection of the controversial Falklands War and leaving her unable to recall articles she had just read.
One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or other dementias in the United States. Without a disease modifying treatment or cure, the number of Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s is projected to triple from 5.2 million to more than 13.8 million by 2050, and cost the U.S. more than $1 trillion annually.
George Vradenburg, Chairman and Co-Founder of USAgainstAlzheimer’s released the following statement in reaction to the news of Thatcher’s death:
“The death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher marks the second global leader in recent memory to die with dementia. The swiftness and ease with which this disease struck down ‘The Iron Lady’ and her good friend President Ronald Reagan serves as yet another striking reminder that dementia can touch the most powerful and intellectually active, and does not discriminate.
“Alzheimer’s is a global health and fiscal crisis on the scale of cancer and heart disease. Without adequate resources invested in research and new medicines, we will continue to fight a losing battle. Now is the time to sound the alarm and mobilize a global response to this disease in honor of the two global leaders -- Thatcher and Reagan -- brought down by this disease.”