China’s ‘happy grandma’ uses live online chats with fans to help care for husband with dementia
Live broadcast followers thanked for helping 80-year-old Alzheimer’s patient with ‘high-spirited’ conversations
A “happy grandma” in central China has become an internet sensation thanks to the live broadcasts she makes of her everyday life with her husband who suffers from dementia
Cao Xuemei, 76, from Wuhan in Hubei province, has been live streaming via a mobile platform every day since July last year, accompanied by her 80-year-old husband Cui Xingli who has Alzheimer’s disease, China Central Television reported.
The couple’s children were quoted as saying that they supported the broadcasts and credited them with improving their father’s condition.
Every day at 8.30am and again in the evening, the neatly dressed couple appear in front of camera and begin their 90-minute show.
Cao uses the “happy grandma” sobriquet for her broadcasts, which have attracted more than 20,000 fans.
Cui mostly repeats what his wife says, but also sometimes sings and dances with her.
“Hello babies. Thank you all, babies! Thank you for making grandpa delighted. Thank you for helping grandpa restore his memory,” Cao said in one segment.
Babies, or baobaomen in Mandarin, are what online streaming hosts call their followers.
Cao also chats with her audience about how to maintain a relationship, and how to keep a family harmonious and happy.
In another segment she recalled how her relationship with Cui started, then went on to encourage her young male fans to learn from her husband and be persistent in wooing girls.
Cui Huaimin, the couple’s son, said he and his sister at first did not support his parents. They gradually changed their minds after finding that their father, who previously struggled to speak or feed himself, was becoming able to eat and drink without assistance. He was also in “high spirits”, the son said.
Cao initiated the idea of doing online broadcasts because she had a long-time dream of performing on television. Her grandchildren suggested that she started making an online show.
Cui, a former bridge engineer, suffered three strokes before being diagnosed with dementia four years ago.
Cao admitted that caring for her husband was hard work, but that it made her happy.