Capitol Hill Politicians Struggling With Cognitive Decline

Former Wilmington City Council, U.S. Senator from Delaware,  Vice President of the United States, and current President of the United States, Joe Biden, who is now 80 years old, is thought by many to be ready to be put out to pasture. He is subjected to questions about his memory loss daily. 

Eighty-one-year-old Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, who has been a senator for four decades, seemed to be in a stupor and stood frozen at the weekly news conference on the condition of the GOP. 

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was 90 years old when her handlers had to stop her planned speech and instruct her to “just say aye.”

The current congressional session has been called “one of the oldest” in Congress’s long history.

The Senate, in which Feinstein serves, has a median age of 65, making it the oldest legislative chamber in American history. Representatives and senators in Congress have a median age of 59.

Throughout the last decade, the average age of Representatives has been 57.

The baby boomer generation has the most representation in Congress when the population is split by age group.

Nearly half (48%) of the 58-77-year-old baby boomer demographic. Among those who make up Generation X (33% of the population) are those aged 42–57.

Twelve percent of individuals are in the Millennial age range (29-42), and six percent are in the Silent Generation (ages 78 and above).

Those under the age of 28 make up a small percentage of Generation Z. Just one Florida Democrat, Representative Maxwell Frost, falls into that category,

This year’s freshman class is one of the youngest in decades, with 18 new legislators under 40, yet the average age of Congress is still at record highs. Career politicians are clinging to their seats until they are carted away on a gurney. 

Well-funded candidates, have strong support from their party’s base, and have widespread public acclaim have a significant advantage in subsequent elections. 

Legislators never vote to end their political careers, and term limits are never taken seriously.

Are the elderly the best we have to offer for representation? Do they reflect the values of emerging generations?

When a representative is in failing cognitive decline, we can do better.