The age and physical condition of the two 2024 presidential candidates have been a constant concern, even more so after the first Biden-Trump debate.

President Joe Biden caused panic among Democratic political analysts after his performance in the June 27 debate. The first showdown between him and his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, who is vying to return to the White House, was marred by his hoarse, whispery voice, awkward answers and some “old age moments.” It also didn’t help that Biden has been a lifelong stutterer and was reportedly battling a cold when he went to the debate.

Some prominent voices in the media, such as the editorial board of The New York Times, called on Biden to step aside to allow “someone more capable to step into his shoes and defeat Trump in November.” They noted that Trump’s performance itself “should be considered disqualifying” because he “blatantly and repeatedly lied about his own actions, his record as president and his opponent.”

Doubts about the age and physical condition of the two 2024 presidential candidates are nothing new, as they have been on voters’ minds since long before their campaigns were in full swing. Both presumptive candidates have made numerous verbal gaffes that have been picked up by the media and pundits.

What do doctors say about Biden’s cognitive status? Experts give their opinion on the U.S. president.

No one doubts that Biden and Trump are old, and at least Biden himself will admit it. “I know I’m not a young man, to state the obvious,” the president said at a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, the day after the debate, where he delivered a performance that many wish they had seen the night before.

He went on to list all the things he doesn’t do as well as he used to: walk, speak fluently and debate. However, he said that his age is not a problem for his ability to do his job and get things done.

Diagnosing a person’s mental abilities or cognitive impairment based on an event or behavior seen in the media and news is “very dangerous,” Allison Sekuler, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto and the Baycrest Centre, told The Washington Post in May. She told the media outlet that verbal and memory lapses could be the result of “depression, temporary dehydration or vitamin B12″ deficiency.

In fact, difficulty remembering proper names is part of aging, because names are arbitrary labels according to research. Both Biden and Trump have swapped names, mixed up dates, places and historical events, or left their audience puzzled about what they were saying. These moments are often referred to as “senior moments.”

These are not necessarily a sign of a deeper problem with memory. “They’re articulation problems, primarily, and this happens as you get older,” said Charan Ranganath, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, Davis.

Determining whether someone is cognitively impaired requires a comprehensive, usually holistic, neuropsychological assessment, which is “an inexact science,” Ranganath says. However, there is no requirement for presidential candidates to undergo cognitive testing or a psychological evaluation.

According to his physician, Kevin C. O’Connor, in a medical evaluation released in February, Biden is a “healthy, active, robust 81-year-old man who remains fit to successfully perform the duties of the presidency.” He did not undergo cognitive testing because Biden’s doctors did not feel he needed it.

As for Trump, he often brags about passing the cognitive tests he supposedly took while in the White House and scoring excellent on a recent one. However, he has released very little actual information about those tests or about his own physical health.

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