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Former US first lady Rosalynn Carter diagnosed with dementia

Rosalynn Carter, the former first lady of the United States, has been diagnosed with dementia, a statement from her family says.

It comes three months after news that her husband, former president Jimmy Carter, 98, is receiving hospice care at their home in Plains, Georgia.

A statement said: “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 statement added that Ms Carter, 95, “has been the nation’s leading mental health advocate for much of her life” – having urged “improved access to care and decreased stigma about issues surrounding mental health”.

The statement adds: “We recognise, 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.”

Mr Carter, a Democrat, served one term as president from 1976 to 1980, when he was resoundingly defeated by Ronald Reagan. Critics have described him as the right president at the wrong time, facing a constant stream of crises during his short term in office.

During the 43 years since the Carters exited the White House, however, they have been known for their humble life in Georgia, while putting in the hard graft building houses with Habitat for Humanity.

They have four children, as well as 22 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The family statement added: “Ms 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 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.”

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