Rosalynn Carter, the former first lady, has entered hospice care at her home in Georgia alongside her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, who has been in hospice since February, the family announced on Friday.
Mrs. Carter, 96, revealed in May that she has dementia, but Friday’s statement offered no further details about her condition or any other ailments she might be suffering. She has been by her husband’s side for the last nine months as he has similarly decided to forgo full-scale medical treatment in anticipation of his final chapter.
“She and President Carter are spending time with each other and their family,” the Carter Center said in a statement on behalf of Jason Carter, the center’s chairman and a grandson of the former first couple. “The Carter family continues to ask for privacy and remains grateful for the outpouring of love and support.”
Hospice is defined as care for terminally ill patients when the priority is not to provide further life-extending treatment but to reduce pain and discomfort toward the end of life. It is meant for patients not expected to live more than six months, although Mr. Carter’s experience defying that timetable has demonstrated that the duration of hospice care can vary. Mr. Carter turned 99 last month and is the longest-living president in American history.
Dementia is a general term for a cluster of symptoms indicating cognitive decline, particularly memory loss, diminished problem-solving skills, trouble with language and other manifestations. People with dementia can struggle to get dressed, drive a car, recall directions or even summon the names of close loved ones. It can cause depression and other personality changes. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia.
Mrs. Carter, who used her time in the White House from 1977 to 1981 to advocate mental health care at a time when that was a topic not always openly discussed, disclosed her own condition in the spring in part to “increase important conversations at kitchen tables and in doctor’s offices around the country,” a statement released by the Carter Center said at the time.
The former president and first lady have spent recent months mostly out of the public limelight, secluded together in their home in Plains, Ga., with caregivers and family, although they were driven in a black S.U.V. through the Plains Peanut Festival in late September just before his 99th birthday to the delight of local residents.
For Mrs. Carter’s 96th birthday in August, a niece of the former president organized a butterfly release at the family house. The couple celebrated their 77th anniversary in July.
“She’s very happy,” Jason Carter said in an interview in September. “She’s reminiscing and remembering some of the great times she’s had.”