We talked to experts on aging about the 2020 field. Here’s what they told us.

One medical expert says Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump are part of the population known as ‘superagers.’

Joe Biden was lying on the operating table and about to get surgery for his second brain aneurysm when the doctor told him he might not recover.

“What’s the most likely thing that will happen if I live?” Biden asked him. “Well,” the doctor replied, “the side of the brain that the first aneurysm is on controls your ability to speak.”

That’s when the gaffe-prone Biden thought to himself: “Why in the hell didn’t they tell me this before the ’88 campaign?’ It could’ve saved us all a lot of trouble, you know what I mean?”

That joke, which Biden told in a speech in 2013, has taken on new relevance now that he’s on the campaign trail for president again and facing questions about his gaffes. Though Biden has a longstanding reputation for verbal flubs, they’re now inextricably linked to the 76-year-old’s age.

But concerns about Biden’s age and mental fitness are likely overblown, according to experts on aging and the brain, as well as actuarial tables used by the insurance industry to estimate the health and longevity of customers.

With the prospect that the next president might be the oldest ever to take office, a team of researchers with the American Federation for Aging Research released a study last month to answer this morbid question: How likely is he or she to die in office?

The answer: Not very.

The candidates “have prospects for survival that extend well beyond the four-year term of the office. The bottom line is their chronological age does not matter at all,” Dr. S. Jay Olshansky, who led the study, said.

Of course the researchers can’t predict death: Their life-expectancy projections for the candidates are based on estimates of the entire population contained in actuarial tables used by the insurance industry and the Social Security Administration. There’s no better way to estimate the longevity or health of the candidates without individual medical examinations and a look at their medical records, they said.

But “there was nothing we could see that would lead us to believe that the age of an individual, in and of itself, should be a disqualifying factor to run for president,” Olshansky said.


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