Margaret Thatcher - An Alzheimer's Victim
- Published on Thursday, 28 August 2008 06:00
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
An Associated Press article appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on 25 August 2008 under the heading: "Iron Lady's Memories Grow Dim." The article quoted exceprts from a new book authored by her daughter Carol Thatcher and to be published in the UK on September 4th, 2008.
“Carol Thatcher charts her mother’s decline – and describes the day in 2000 when she first understood her mother was being robbed of her memory...I couldn’t believe it,” Thatcher said in a section published by the London Mail on Sunday. “She was in her 75th year. But I had always thought of her as ageless, timeless and 100 percent cast-iron damage-proof.”
Thatcher said her mother – who is now 82 – used to have a memory “like a website” but that dementia, combined with a series of mini-strokes, opened “a new and frightening chapter in our lives.” “What was most galling was that there was nothing I could do: this cruel disease takes its own course" she said.”
The AOL News on 26 August 2008 also carried and item on the same subject under the heading: “Britain’s Thatcher Suffers from Dementia.”
The following is quoted from that article – “Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – once known as one of the world’s most formidable political minds – has been suffering from dementia for the past several years according to her daughter, Carol.” The woman who had dominated discussions for so long could no longer lead debates or keep up with the thread of a drinks-party conversation, she wrote.” On bad days, she could hardly remember the beginning of a sentence by the time she got to the end.”
It is often estimated that 70-80% of all dementia symptoms are caused by Alzheimer’s. Based on the described symptoms and the disease statistics, it is probable the Margaret Thatcher has Alzheimer’s.
There is a suggestion that Margaret Thatcher's symptoms may have resulted from a series of small strokes that she had in 2002. However her daughter documented her memory problems to the year 2000, fully two years prior to the strokes. There is also the prevailing theory that Alzheimer's is at work in the brain for 10-30 years before the first symptoms of the disease appear.
Margaret Thatcher was a close ally and friend of President Ronald Reagan. They were said to be close both philosophically and politically. It is a tragic coincidence that both became victims of Alzheimer's disease. She once said of Reagan that he was the "Second most important man in my life." Reagan had said of her that she was "The best man in England ." (See photo below right - President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher having a friendly visit.)
Margaret Thatcher is the second British Prime Minister to come down with Alzheimer's. Harold Wilson was the first.
Before coming into public life, Margaret Thatcher studied Chemistry at Oxford University but then changed course and went on to become a lawyer.
Her term of office as Prime Minister was the longest in the 20th centrury. She was also the first female Prime Minister of England. (1979-1990)
Monday 8 April 2013 - Associated Press- London reported the death of Margaret Thatcher at age 87:
“It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning…”
Excerpts from the Associated Press story of Margaret Thatcher’s life and her death follow…
“Love her or loathe her, one thing's beyond dispute: Margaret Thatcher transformed Britain. The Iron Lady who ruled for 11 remarkable years imposed her will on a fractious, rundown nation _ breaking the unions, triumphing in a far-off war, and selling off state industries at a record pace. She left behind a leaner government and more prosperous nation by the time a mutiny ousted her from No. 10 Downing Street…
Thatcher was the first and still only female prime minister in Britain's history. But she often found feminists tiresome and was not above using her handbag as a prop to underline her swagger and power. A grocer's daughter, she rose to the top of Britain's snobbish hierarchy the hard way, and envisioned a classless society that rewarded hard work and determination…
Like her close friend and political ally Ronald Reagan, Thatcher seemed motivated by an unshakable belief that free markets would build a better country than reliance on a strong, central government. Another thing she shared with the American president: a tendency to reduce problems to their basics, choose a path, and follow it to the end, no matter what the opposition.
She formed a deep attachment to the man she called "Ronnie", some spoke of it as a schoolgirl crush. Still, she would not back down when she disagreed with him on important matters, even though the United States was the richer and vastly stronger partner in the so-called "special relationship."…
She was underestimated at first _ by her own party, by the media, later by foreign adversaries. But they all soon learned to respect her. Thatcher's "Iron Lady" nickname was coined by Soviet journalists, a grudging testament to her ferocious will and determination…
…her economic philosophy eventually crossed party lines: Tony Blair led a revamped Labour Party to victory by adopting some of her ideas.
Margaret Hilda Roberts was born on Oct. 13, 1925. She learned the values of thrift, discipline and industry as the dutiful daughter of Alfred Roberts, a grocer and Methodist lay preacher who eventually became the mayor of Grantham, a modest-sized town in Lincolnshire 110 miles north of London.
Thatcher's personality, like that of so many of her contemporaries, was shaped in part by the traumatic events during her childhood. When World War II broke out, her hometown was one of the early targets for Luftwaffe bombs. Her belief in the need to stand up to aggressors was rooted in the failure of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's attempt to appease Adolf Hitler rather than confront him.
Thatcher said she learned much about the world simply by studying her father's business. She grew up in the family's apartment just above the shop….
"The economic history of Britain for the next 40 years confirmed and amplified almost every item of my father's practical economics. In effect, I had been equipped at an early age with the ideal mental outlook and tools of analysis for reconstructing an economy ravaged by state socialism."
Educated at Oxford, Thatcher began her political career in her mid-20s with an unsuccessful 1950 campaign for a parliamentary seat in the Labor Party stronghold of Dartford. She earned nationwide publicity as the youngest female candidate in the country despite her loss at the polls.
She was defeated again the next year, but on the campaign trail she met Denis Thatcher, a successful businessman whom she married in 1951. Their twins Mark and Carol were born two years later.
"She was beautiful, gay, very kind and thoughtful," Denis Thatcher said in an interview 25 years later.
"Who could meet Margaret without being completely slain by her personality and intellectual brilliance?"
As the first male Downing Street spouse, Denis Thatcher stayed out of the limelight to a large degree while supporting his wife on her many travels and public engagements. He was said to give her important behind-the-scenes advice on Cabinet choices and other personnel matters…
She survived an audacious 1984 assassination attempt by the Irish Republican Army that nearly succeeded. The IRA detonated a bomb in her hotel in Brighton during a party conference, killing and injuring senior government figures, but leaving the prime minister and her husband unharmed.
…she suffered several small strokes that in 2002 led her to curtail her lucrative public speaking career.
Denis Thatcher died the following year; they had been married more than a half century.
She suffered from dementia in her final years, and her public appearances became increasingly rare.
She is survived by her two children, Mark Thatcher and Carol Thatcher, and her grandchildren.”
The BBC television programme "The Daily Politics" asked viewers in 2007 to select their favourite Prime Minister. Margaret Thatcher topped the list with 49% of the vote, with Clement Attlee coming second with 32%.[
Amy Stiel Almas - Waterford, Michigan - (8 April 2013): "Very interesting. I had no idea about alzheimer's disease being present."
Merideth Sindel - Sydney, Australia - (8 April 2013): "So Margaret Thatcher is gone. I'm glad her sufferings are over now. I hated the movie 'Iron Lady' mainly because I think to make a movie about somebody with dementia when they are still living it was such a selfish and ineligant thing to do. Imagine if you'd been caring for her and you were constantly trying to shield her from the ads. It would have been a nightmare for her daughter. That made me very sad for them both. She was a very controversial leader but it is always a sorrow to see the suffering that dementia inflicts."
Catherine Jones-Hatcher - Richmond, Virginia - (9 April 2013): "As usual, you have done a wonderful job presenting this information. I admired her as well. I was surprised that the news reports I saw made no mention of her battle with Alzheimers. This disease reaches all corners of the world , and takes anyone it can get. Thanks again for your continuing effort to educate us all about it and its reach."
Lynette Richards - Hindhead, United Kingdom - (10 April 2013): "Thank you Stan for the link to your tribute and interesting story about Margaret Thatcher and Alzheimers. I've always been interested in her claim that she never slept more than 4 hours each night for years and years. Quite remarkable especially as we know how a stressful lifestyle can make us tired. There's much controversy about how much sleep we need but many think that sleep deprivation can have a detrimental effect on health."
Christine Ann Williams - United Kingdom - (11 April 2013): "I was never a Tory Stan...But terrible to see another strong mind destroyed by the dreaded AD it is so sad ...I saw her on the news feeds over the last months and could spot it ...Not the same Thatcher by far... she will be having the same State funeral has Churchill and the only second prime minister that the Queen has attended the service of... After all she was the first woman to be in power ...I have enjoyed my visit to Junes page Stan, interesting reading as always."