Former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter diagnosed with dementia

The former first lady continues to live at home with her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, in Plains, Georgia.

Former US President Jimmy Carter with his wife Rosalynn Carter
Former United States President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary on July 10, 2021, in Plains, Georgia [File: John Bazemore/AP Photo via Pool]

The family of former United States President Jimmy Carter has announced that his wife, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, has dementia.

In a press release on Tuesday, the Carter family stated that Rosalynn, 95, will continue to live with her husband at their residence in Plains, Georgia.

The statement also acknowledged Rosalynn’s longtime role as a mental health advocate among the reasons for going public with the news.

“We recognize, as she [Rosalynn] 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,” the statement reads.

“We hope sharing our family’s news will increase important conversations at kitchen tables and in doctor’s offices around the country.”

No further comment from the family is expected. In February, 98-year-old Jimmy Carter, the oldest living former president, also announced that he would begin hospice care due to deteriorating health.

The former president has also stated that he would forego medical interventions, opting instead for in-home care.

He was diagnosed with cancer in 2015 but took the news in stride, stating that he was “perfectly at ease with whatever comes” because he had lived “an exciting, adventurous and gratifying existence”.

The Carters have been married for nearly 77 years and have four children. Prominent figures in their small Georgia community, the couple has limited visits to family and close friends in recent months.

But prior to their health problems, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter had an active life post-presidency.

Following his defeat in the 1980 presidential race, Jimmy worked with Rosalynn to found the Carter Center, a non-profit dedicated to addressing suffering and supporting democracy around the world. Among its successes is the campaign to eradicate Guinea worm disease, a debilitating parasitic infection that has dropped to 13 documented cases in the last year.

According to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, Rosalynn has worked closely on issues such as mental health, caregiving, childhood immunization, human rights and conflict resolution.

She also authored several books, including an autobiography and a book on assisting those with mental health issues. And at home in Plains, Georgia, she served as a deacon at Maranatha Baptist Church, where her husband also taught Sunday school.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies