Monday, December 11, 2023
21.8 F

    Latest Posts

    Rosalynn Carter dementia hospice | Plains community reacts

    It was this past May when the family disclosed that Mrs. Carter has dementia.

    PLAINS, Ga. — Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, at 96 years old, has entered home hospice care along with former President Jimmy Carter, 99, The Carter Center announced Friday. 

    It was this past May when the family disclosed that Mrs. Carter has dementia.

    Mr. Carter entered home hospice three months earlier, in February, because of ongoing health issues unrelated to dementia.

    Residents in Plains, including family friend Nelle Ariail, are sending their well wishes to the couple.

    “I love them and I just hope that they’ll be comfortable,” Ariail said. 

    Ariail went on several trips with the couple, helping build cost-friendly homes through Habitat for Humanity.

    “[Rosalynn] and I shared a room,” she recalled. “Bunk beds. I think I took the top bunk. She’s just a normal, sweet lady and just so caring about everybody else.”

    Ariail pulled out a grayish-blueish stone necklace that had been gifted to her by Mrs. Carter back in 2011. 

    “We were at a Christmas party and she was wearing this beautiful necklace, so I told her how pretty it was. She said, ‘Thank you, I got this in China’. Well, at Christmastime, they went to China and she brought me one just like hers in 2011. ‘Isn’t that gorgeous?'”

    Habitat for Humanity says the Carters helped build or repair nearly 4,500 homes since 1984.

    But Ariail’s friendship with the Carters bloomed in the ’80s, inside the Maranatha Baptist Church, where her husband was a minister.

    She says she saw them at that church two months ago.

    “We were just so happy to see him at church one more time,” she said. “We thought about whether it might be the last time. But who knows? He still seems to be pretty well cognitive with his mind. It’s just his inability to walk is the worst thing, I guess. But she’s still mobile as far as I know.”

    Ellen Harris, manager of the Plains Historic Inn and Antique Mall, says that to live in Plains is to know and love Rosalynn. That love was evident in the well wishes she and others on Main Street are wishing the couple.

    “I just wish them peace and I wish her comfort. I just don’t want her to suffer,” Harris said. “But we’ll miss her when she’s gone, and him also. But they’ve done so much for our town and for the world. They will never be forgotten.”

    Harris says it’s felt like a different year outside her store.

    “We’ve missed them being on sidewalks and walking around town because they’d walk around in the community every afternoon,” she said. 

    Despite fewer sightings of the Carter couple now that the former First Lady has joined the former President in receiving hospice care at their home, the impact of their work lives all over their proud town.

    “They would come down here and see [our store] and visit for a while and ask how business was going,” Harris said. “Then he’d say, ‘Rosie, let’s go,’ and they’d hold hands and walk out the door and go to the next business.”

    Mrs. Carter is a butterfly conservationist, an author and she worked tirelessly next to her husband of 77 years to pass significant legislation advocating for mental health care.

    Those who care for people with dementia say the announcement about Mrs. Carter entering hospice is helping families of dementia patients know that hospice can provide the best care for their older loved ones in the later stages of the disease when approved by their family physicians.

    Mrs. Carter has devoted her adult life to serving and helping people— in partnership with her husband and independently.

    Now, Rosalynn Carter and her family are helping again.

    “The Carter family has been great about helping with the stigma with hospice,” said Kimberly Blackstock with the Alzheimer’s Association in Atlanta.

    Blackstock said Friday that Mrs. Carter is basically showing families who are caring for loved ones with dementia that hospice can provide the support they and their loved ones need most– when they need it the most.

    Blackstock added hospice is 100 percent covered by Medicaid and Medicare.

    “They get round-the-clock care through nursing, 24-hour on-call,” Blackstock said. “They have CNAs (certified nursing assistants) that come and help bathe them, dress them and take some of that care off of the caregiver… The family support from the hospice organization is so great to help them cope and make sure that everything is ready and prepared as they go through the stages of the disease. Some people can be on service for over a year. Some people, it might be only weeks. It helps and supports the family, and they walk through this journey together. But it is a very intimate journey.”

    It is a journey that Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter, married 77 years, are now taking together. It is also a journey that families throughout Georgia know well.

    “Right now in the state of Georgia, we have 343,000 caregivers– family and friends that are taking care of their loved ones that are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia,” Blackstock said. “And it’s easy to get burned out from it. I tell everybody to talk to their primary physician about when to move their loved one to hospice. It is very hard to make that decision.”

    However, she said when a family does make that decision to provide hospice care for their loved one when their physician says it’s time.

    “You can start seeing a glow coming back in them. Because they know that they’re not going through this alone, that there are other people out there going through it and that are there 24/7 to support them through this,” Blackstock said. 

    There are many services available to families who need information on what to do for their older loved ones and how they can get help.

    The Alzheimer’s Association, for example, provides a free Helpline 24 hours a day that families can call with any questions they have about dementia care. The people answering the Helpline are Master’s-level social workers and can provide one-on-one care consultations to help families through all stages of their loved ones’ dementia. The Helpline number is 800-272-3900.


    Latest Posts

    Don't Miss

    Stay in touch

    To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.