Sandra Day O’Connor announces she has been diagnosed with dementia, possibly Alzheimer’s’

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 25: Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 25, 2012 in Washington, DC. O'Connor spoke to the necessity for civics education in maintaining an independent judiciary. The former associate justice also expressed doubt about the process in some states of electing judges, and about the validity of asking Supreme Court nominees how they would vote in the future. (Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)

Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor revealed in a letter on Tuesday that she has been diagnosed with the “beginning stages of dementia, probably Alzheimer’s disease.”

“I will continue living in Phoenix, Arizona surrounded by dear friends and family,” she wrote and added, “While the final chapter of my life with dementia may be trying, nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the countless blessings of my life.”

O’Connor, 88, was nominated to the bench by President Ronald Reagan as the first female Supreme Court justice of the United States in 1981. She retired from the bench in 2006, in part to care for her husband, who was ailing from Alzheimer’s.

The letter was released by the court’s Public Information Officer. O’Connor signed it at the bottom writing “God Bless you all.”