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A woman’s decision to share moments of her caring for her mother with Alzheimer’s has attracted millions of followers online. Photo: SCMP composite

102-year-old mother with Alzheimer’s thanking her ‘mum’ sweet video touches millions in China as she mistakenly believes caregiving daughter is her parent

  • The old woman sometimes confuses her daughter for her mother, highlighting that Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease
  • The younger woman said she wants to show the best side of her mother, so she shares the positive moments they have

China’s oldest online celebrity might be a 102-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s and her 59-year-old daughter offers a window into the life of two women trying to navigate the debilitating brain disease.

The older woman, Yang Yulin from Sichuan province in southwest China, occasionally believes her daughter, Li Yongchun, is actually her mother.
“Mum, mum, where are you?” the old woman shouted when she briefly lost sight of her daughter on the street.
In recent videos, Yang still regularly mistakes Li for her mother or elder sister.
Li Yongchun, left, is now a full-timer caregiver for her mother. Photo: Sina

Despite the serious nature of the subject, Yang’s daughtertries to show the fun and loving moments the two share. She said she only posts about happy moments and deliberately avoids sharing the hardship in her work because she wants to show her mother’s clean, healthy and joyful side in her old age.

Li has spent the past six years looking after Yang round the clock and has won widespread applause for her patience and good care of the centenarian.

Her videos have received over 36 million likes in total so far.

Yang, who suffers severe memory loss and confusion, became widely known after a video of her calling her daughter “mum” last year struck a chord with many online users.

“It is unfortunate that Granny Yang has this disease, but she is also lucky to be so well looked after. Just be your daughter’s child, Granny Yang,” one person said online.

Li believes it is her duty to take good care of her mother. Photo: Sina

Li, who prepares meals for her mother, takes her to the park during the day and sleeps beside her at night, saying she is just doing what a child should do.

“My mother raised me when I was young, and I care for her when she is old. This is happiness as I understand,” said Li, who always calls Yang “old baby”.

Adult children in China are traditionally expected to take care of their ageing parents. However, elderly care is becoming an increasing public concern as China ages, and it becomes more challenging to care for elderly folks on a large scale.

Li says she purposely showcases the positive moments of taking care of her mother to protect her reputation. Photo: Sina

While the country’s elderly care still relies mainly on families today, a growing number of young people no longer always look after their old parents for various reasons, such as they live far away in cities or no longer place tradition at a high value.

More than 15 million Chinese people aged 60 and above suffer from dementia, including 10 million from Alzheimer’s, a disease that gradually destroys memory and other important mental functions, according to the National Health Commission.