SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The country is remembering the life and legacy of former U.S. First Lady Rosalynn Carter, who passed away Sunday at the age of 96. She lived a life of patriotism and volunteerism, having an affinity for mental health support and hospice care.
“Rosalynn Carter was so ahead of her time,” says Dr. Kathleen Benton, president and CEO of Hospice Savannah.
“People for years did not recognize or were not willing to focus on how difficult it can be for a family member to care give. She saw that right away. She saw the future. She saw the aging population, that they were going to exceed the youth, and that’s happening right now,” she continues.
Mrs. Carter’s impact on hospice care in Savannah is great, with her foundation, The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, supporting a program at Hospice Savannah since 2017 through grants and sponsored conferences.
That program is the Edel Caregiver Institute, an arm of Hospice Savannah that takes care of families and loved ones of those in hospice care.
“I think what her institute saw in the Edel Caregiver is something of an anomaly. There’s nothing like this in the country, an actual place to go where caregivers can show up and say: ‘I don’t know what I need, I just need someone to sit down tell me what I need and help me,’” says Benton.
Benton says she believes Hospice Savannah’s unique program embodies the mission of Mrs. Carter’s institute, which is promoting caregivers’ health, strength and resilience.
“As someone who was in this field regularly, it just reinforces the toll that caregiving – even if that’s the emotional toll of watching someone dwindle instead of watching someone progress in their disease, and the toll it takes on loved ones,” says Benton, “and it reinforces the need for people to reach out and get the services that they need.”
Benton says Rosalynn Carter’s legacy will live on, especially in Savannah.
“I think with her passing, her legacy will only get stronger, and we will only be able to help families even more,” says Benton.
The Edel Caretaker Institute is located at 6000 Business Center Dr. off Chatham Pkwy., and has been in operation since 2015. If you are a family caregiver in need of emotional support, you can call Edel Caretaker Institute at (912) 629-1331 or email Info@EdelCaregiverInstitute.org.