IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Rosalynn Carter dies at 96: What to know about her health before her death

The former first lady died on Nov. 19, 2023.
/ Source: TODAY

Rosalynn Carter died at the age of 96 on Sunday, Nov. 19. The former first lady leaves behind her husband, former president Jimmy Carter, four children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The Carter Center, the couple's human rights nonprofit, announced Rosalynn Carter had died in a statement on Sunday.

“Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,” Jimmy Carter said in the statement. “She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me.”

Like her husband, Rosalynn Carter experienced a few health issues toward the end of her life. Here's a look back at the state of her health before her death.

How did Rosalynn Carter die?

Rosalynn Carter "died peacefully, with family by her side" on Nov. 19, 2023, at 2:10 p.m. at her home in Plains, Georgia, according to the Carter Center.

No official cause of death for Rosalynn Carter has been made public.

The former first lady was diagnosed with dementia before her death, which her family revealed in May 2023 in a Carter Center statement. Several months later, on Nov. 17, her grandson Jason Carter shared that she was joining her husband in receiving hospice care in their home. There is no cure for dementia, and the condition can eventually lead to death.

Rosalynn Carter underwent breast tumor removal surgery in 1977

Doctors found and removed a nonmalignant lump in Rosalynn Carter's breast in 1977 when she was 49 years old. Per the New York Times, the lump was discovered during a "gynecological checkup" and the mother of four "was taken into surgery immediately."

Following the procedure, the first lady's press secretary, Mary Hoyt said Rosalynn Carter was "up and about and in great spirits."

Rosalynn Carter was diagnosed with dementia in 2023

The Carter Center issued a statement in May 2023 and revealed that Rosalynn Carter had been diagnosed with dementia.

“She continues to live happily at home with her husband, enjoying spring in Plains and visits with loved ones,” the statement read.

The Carter Center addressed the stigma that often surrounds dementia and mental health in general in the statement: "We recognize, 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."

In an August interview with People, grandson Josh Carter shared that his grandmother well enough in May to approve the Carter Center press release announced her diagnosis. He add at the time that she “still knows who we are, for the most part — that we are family. ... My grandmother is still able to form new memories.”

Rosalynn Carter entered hospice shortly before her death

Two days before her death, Rosalynn Carter's family announced that she had entered hospice care at her home in Plains, Georgia.

"She and President Carter are spending time with each other and their family. The Carter family continues to ask for privacy and remains grateful for the outpouring of love and support," a statement from The Carter Center read.

Jimmy Carter also began receiving hospice care at home in February 2023.

"After a series of short hospital stays, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter today decided to spend his remaining time at home with his family and receive hospice care instead of additional medical intervention," a statement from The Carter Center read at the time. "He has the full support of his family and his medical team. The Carter family asks for privacy during this time and is grateful for the concern shown by his many admirers."

Rosalynn Carter's funeral services will take place Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. The event is for invited friends and family. Other ceremonial services will include a wreath-laying on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, and a tribute service at the Carter Center on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023.