By Dr. Jamie Huysman
In Memory of Eleanor Rosalynn (née Smith) Carter
August 18, 1927 – November 19, 2023
There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers.
Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.― Rosalynn Carter
Our dear Rosalynn Carter, former First Lady of the United States and the State of Georgia – champion of mental health, caregiving, women’s rights, and people who are homeless – has passed away, but her energy and commitment will forever endure in this world.
Rosalynn, you’ve rocked this world in a most powerful manner, and you have also inspired and rocked my own professional world. Not only were you a champion of mental health, but it was your compassionate and innovative work at the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers (opened in 1987 at your alma mater, Georgia Southwestern College in Americus) that inspired a nation and a healthcare system to finally shift its focus to the vital group of caregivers who make healthcare at home possible for their loved ones.
In response to her mother’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease, Leeza Gibbons and I co-founded the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation (LGMF) in 2002. This led me to co-found the TAR Network™ in 2022, with a goal toward dealing with the pandemic of toxic relationships, including high conflict caregiving. You were always the North Star for me and other mental health and caregiver advocates, and you taught us so much about providing compassionate care. You saw the need to drive psychosocial programming and support while including caregivers in all aspects of medical and behavioral health care.
You provided the impetus for LGMF opening in eight (8) cities to serve an abundance of people in various stages of one of the biggest challenges in their lives, family caregiving. You have left us with an indelible impression as we focus our international efforts on helping people come out of the fog and into the light.
As a clinical professional I know that metrics, outcomes, and real science are vital to the practice of modern healthcare. Through your Institute – and your selfless commitment to address the challenges of mental health and caregiving – you emphasized the need for caregivers to help develop evidence-based programs and provide peer-to-peer coaching and support to the almost 90 million caregivers in our country.
Your legacy has set a fine example – with a very high bar – for all of our foundations and healthcare systems to replicate. We are fortunate to work with a number of clinical leaders in our efforts to emulate your work at the TAR Center in the treatment of complex trauma as it relates to caregivers.
Rosalynn, you will always be a guiding light for mental health and caregiving in this world. You will be forever remembered as a force of nature, and for your extraordinary energy and dedication to advocating for people who are mentally challenged, caregivers, and the homeless through Habitat for Humanity. Personally, I will always be grateful for your contributions to our advocacy efforts on behalf of the mentally challenged and caregivers.
Thank you for your work here on this earth and in my life. May you forever rest in peace – your job here is done and we are eternally grateful.