Former first lady Rosalynn Carter has dementia, the Carter Center said in a statement on Tuesday.
The 95-year-old wife of former President Jimmy Carter continues to live “happily at home with her husband, enjoying spring in Plains and visits with loved ones.”
The statement noted Rosalynn Carter’s lifelong work as an advocate for mental health services, dating back to when her husband was the governor of Georgia.
“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 statement said. “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 Carter family is sharing 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 (@CarterCenter) May 30, 2023
The statement also noted the prevalence of dementia in senior citizens, adding that the disease can lead to other health and mental health problems for those suffering from it.
Jimmy Carter, 98, is facing his own health problems and has “decided to spend his remaining time at home with his family and receive hospice care instead of additional medical intervention,” the Carter Center said back in February. “He has the full support of his family and his medical team.”
Earlier this year, the family of actor Bruce Willis, 67, revealed that he had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia.
Frontotemporal dementia often begins with changes in personality, including apathy and loss of inhibition, before progressing to memory loss. Though the exact cause is unknown, the symptoms are the result of damage to the neurons in a person’s frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, and there is currently no cure for the disease.
“Since we announced Bruce’s diagnosis of aphasia in spring 2022, Bruce’s condition has progressed and we now have a more specific diagnosis: frontotemporal dementia (known as FTD),” the family said. “Unfortunately, challenges with communication are just one symptom of the disease Bruce faces. While this is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis.”
“FTD is a cruel disease that many of us have never heard of and can strike anyone. For people under 60, FTD is the most common form of dementia, and because getting the diagnosis can take years, FTD is likely much more prevalent than we know,” the statement continued. “Today there are no treatments for the disease, a reality that we hope can change in the years ahead. As Bruce’s condition advances, we hope that any media attention can be focused on shining a light on this disease that needs far more awareness and research.”
Willis’ family shared a statement last year on social media announcing that he was stepping away from his acting career after he had been diagnosed at the time with aphasia, a disorder that affects speech. Aphasia, often caused by head injury or stroke, can also develop gradually as a result of other neurodegenerative diseases.