Former first lady Rosalynn Carter has dementia

The Carter Center said the former First Lady is living with her husband, the nation’s 39th president, at their home in Plains.
The Carter Center announced that former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has been diagnosed with dementia.
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 1:08 PM EDT|Updated: May. 30, 2023 at 4:15 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The Carter family announced Tuesday that former first lady Rosalynn Carter has dementia.

“She continues to live happily at home with her husband, enjoying spring in Plains and visits with loved ones,” The Carter Center said of the 95-year-old in a statement.

“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,” a statement from the family read. “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.”

Former President Jimmy Carter, 98, entered home hospice care in February of this year. The two have been married for 77 years and are the longest-married first couple in U.S. history.

The Carters have been visiting only with family and close friends since the former president’s announcement that he would forgo further medical intervention after a series of short hospital stays.

The family has not disclosed any specific diagnosis for either the former president or the former first lady.

Eleanor Rosalynn Smith was born in Plains on Aug. 18, 1924. It was Jimmy Carter’s mother, a nurse, who delivered her in her family’s home. Lillian Carter brought her young son back a few days later to visit, allowing the future president and first lady to meet as preschooler and newborn.

The Carter Center is offering a platform for you to leave messages of support to Rosalynn and the Carter family, here.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp released a statement talking about the voice she had for so many years for mental healthcare and promoting the “well-being of those affected by these issues, along with their caregivers.” He added that his family knows Rosalynn will fight this challenge “with the same strength and vigor she has shown in other areas of her life.”

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Return to Atlanta News First for updates on this developing story.