Rosalynn Carter, wife of Jimmy, diagnosed with dementia

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Rosalynn Carter, the 95-year-old wife of former President Jimmy Carter, has dementia, the couple’s charity organization said Tuesday.

She continues to “live happily at home” in Georgia with her husband, the nonprofit Carter Center said in a statement that did not provide further details about the diagnosis. Dementia refers generally to mental impairment, and can come in various forms.

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

The statement said the family does “not expect to comment further.”

In February, the Carter Center said that Jimmy Carter, 98, had decided to receive hospice care at his home instead of continuing to medically fight an illness that threatens his life.

The nonprofit did not cite a specific illness at the time, and declined to comment on his health on Tuesday.

Rosalynn Carter, nicknamed “Steel Magnolia,” proved a powerful voice in her own right during and after her Democratic husband’s one-term presidency, which lasted from 1977 to 1981. She focused on improving mental health care, battling gender inequality and furthering human rights in the U.S. and abroad.

Her husband, the 39th president and a one-time Georgia peanut farmer, made several short hospital stays prior to his hospice decision, according to the Carter Center.

Jimmy Carter has lived longer than any other U.S. president. He earned that distinction in 2019 when he reached 94 years and 172 days old. He has said his wife — once a happy and vital campaigner — is more politically inclined than he is.

The former president and his wife are famously close-knit. Their marriage is the longest between a president and first lady in White House history. It is on track to enter its 78th year in July.

“He has always thought I could do anything,” Rosalynn Carter said of her husband in 2014. “And because of that, I — and we — have had some wonderful adventures.”

Their grandson, Jason Carter, recently suggested the two are enjoying their final years of life at home in Plains, Ga.

“They also know that they’re not in charge,” Jason Carter told The Associated Press. “Their faith is really grounding in this moment. In that way, it’s as good as it can be.”

In its statement Tuesday, the Carter Center said that Rosalynn Carter has often said there are “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 universality of caregiving is clear in our family,” the statement said, “and we are experiencing the joy and the challenges of this journey.”

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 10% of Americans over the age of 65 experience some form of dementia.

With Joseph Wilkinson