“There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.” –Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter
In a powerful public statement, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, 95, and her family earlier today revealed that she is living with dementia. “The Carter family is sharing that former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has dementia,” the Carter Center’s statement reads. “She continues to live happily at home with her husband, enjoying spring in Plains and visits with loved ones.” The announcement by the Carter Center comes just a few months months after the announcement that after it said that former president Jimmy Carter, 98, entered hospice care at the family’s home in Georgia.
“We hope sharing
our family’s news will increase
important conversations at kitchen
tables and in doctor’s offices
around the country.”
Mrs. Carter has been a leading voice for mental health, brain health and caregiver support in the U.S. for much of her life, beginning with her husband’s time as Georgia governor, and both during and after her time in the White House. She founded the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, and has long advocated for improved access to care and decreased stigma, and she’s known for, among many others, this powerful quote: “There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.”
The Carter family added in their official statement: “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.”
The family’s public announcement of her dementia is, in itself, an act to break down that stigma, reminding families on similar journeys that they are not alone. “We are grateful for their efforts,” Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., President and CEO, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, said in a statement. “Her work changed many people’s lives for the better. The Carter family’s willingness to share her story will make a positive difference for many more.”
Indeed, it’s an disease that affects millions. Today, one in 10 Americans over the age of 65 with dementia, and as many as three adults over the age of 85 are living with Alzheimer’s or another neurodegenerative condition. Those numbers are rising as the American population ages.