Rosalynn Carter has been diagnosed with dementia.
The 94-year-old former First Lady is “continuing to live happily” at home with her husband, former US President Jimmy Carter – who entered hospice care in February – in Georgia, but her family have shared her diagnosis in the hope of sparking conversations amongst people in similar situations.
A family statement read: “Mrs. Carter has been the nation’s leading mental health advocate for much of her life. First in the Georgia Governor’s Mansion, then in the White House, and later at The Carter Center, she urged improved access to care and decreased stigma about issues surrounding mental health.
“One in 10 older Americans have dementia, a condition that affects overall mental health. We recognize, as she did more than half a century ago, that stigma is often a barrier that keeps individuals and their families from seeking and getting much-needed support. We hope sharing our family’s news will increase important conversations at kitchen tables and in doctor’s offices around the country.”
While few updates have been given on the 98-year-old former president’s health since it was announced he had stopped medical treatment and planned to see out the rest of his days at home, the statement said Rosalynn was continuing to “live happily at home with her husband, enjoying spring in Plains and visits with loved ones.”
The statement continued: “As the founder of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, Mrs. Carter often noted that there are only four kinds of people in this world: those who have been caregivers; those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.
“The universality of caregiving is clear in our family, and we are experiencing the joy and the challenges of this journey. We do not expect to comment further and ask for understanding for our family and for everyone across the country serving in a caregiver role.”
The couple – who have known one another for their whole lives as their parents were close friends and neighbours – celebrated their 76th wedding anniversary in July 2022 and have four children, 12 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.