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Former first lady Rosalynn Carter has dementia, The Carter Center says

FILE - Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife former first lady Rosalynn Carter sit together during a reception to celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary on July 10, 2021, in Plains, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, Pool, File)

ATLANTA (AP) – Former first lady Rosalynn Carter has dementia, her family announced Tuesday.

Carter, now 95, remains at home with former President Jimmy Carter, who has been at home receiving hospice care since early this year.

“She continues to live happily at home with her husband, enjoying spring in Plains and visits with loved ones,” the family said via The Carter Center, the global humanitarian organization the couple founded in 1982 after leaving the White House.

Married nearly 77 years, the Carters are the longest-married first couple in U.S. history.

The family noted in its statement that Rosalynn Carter has spent her long public life advocating for individuals and families affected by mental illness and for those in caregiving relationships with loved ones.

“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 reads. “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 statement said.

The Carters have been visiting only with family and close friends since the former president’s announcement in February 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.

The Carters have described themselves as “full partners” throughout his political career and their long public life that followed. Rosalynn Carter campaigned vigorously for her husband in his bids for Georgia governor and the presidency. She used her platform to prioritize mental health awareness, working to address the stigma attached to the condition.

That emphasis became part of The Carter Center’s expansive public health platforms.

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.

They were married July 7, 1946.

From The Associated Press. May not be republished.

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  • Bill Barrow