KANSAS — Former U.S. Rep. Karen McCarthy, who represented the Kansas City area in Congress for a decade, is suffering from an advanced form of Alzheimer's disease, her family said Wednesday.
McCarthy, 62, has lived in a Johnson County nursing facility for about a month. She is "comfortable and comforted by the people who care so much about who she is, what she stands for and how the rest of her life can be led with some measure of peace and satisfaction," according to a family statement.
McCarthy, who retired from Congress in 2005, is single and has no children.
Timothy Colley, a family friend, and Lauren McCarthy, McCarthy's sister, have been appointed her guardians. She lacked the capacity "to meet essential needs for (her) physical health, safety or welfare," according to a medical evaluation signed by a physician at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
The statement from McCarthy's family said her difficulties were compounded by a bipolar disorder that apparently went undiagnosed for at least a decade.
A non-injury car accident involving McCarthy at her home in April prompted her family to seek medical help.
"The diagnosis clearly confirmed she was in the grip of both diseases" – Alzheimer's and the bipolar condition, the statement said. "It became clear to Karen's friends and family that she would be unable to be safe and secure if living in circumstances without 24-hour supervision."
As news of McCarthy's condition spread, tributes flowed.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who served with McCarthy in the General Assembly, recalled how she was out front on the environment.
"She was way ahead of her time," Nixon said.
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who served with McCarthy in the Missouri House in the 1980s, said her colleague "cared deeply about the people she served."
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