An emotional viral video is drawing attention to the painful reality of dealing with dementia.
More than 11 million people have watched the South Carolina woman’s video. Christine Stone recorded it over several days, while telling her mom with dementia that she’s pregnant. Day-after-day, the 77-year-old reacts with joy like it’s the first time she’s hearing the news.
According to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, right now, there are a half million people in Florida living with Alzheimer's, and that number's expected to nearly double in the next decade.
One in three people will be touched by the devastating disease that impacts memory, when you add in those caring for loved ones.
“You know I'm having a baby,” Christine Stone asks her mother on the video.
“No! Really,” her mother replies.
Robert Homeier knows painfully well what Stone is going through. The daughter repeatedly has to tell her mom she's pregnant, sometimes several times an hour. The 77-year-old was diagnosed with Alzheimer's eight years ago.
“Do you know I'm having a baby?” Stone asks her mom.
“What? Really,” her mom replies.
“Yes, October,” Stone says.
“Good, Christine, October,” the mom says.
“Her mom had a great attitude, and she was happy. She wasn't upset or angry. Sometimes, it’s just, really? Do I have to do this again,” says Homeier. He cared for both of his parents, James and Marcella Gray, at once living with Alzheimer’s.
“It was tough as for me. I had my mother and my stepfather at the same time. They were both in varying stages. You know it's coming. You know you're going to have that conversation again, and you just do it because you love them and that's what you do,” says Homeier.
“It's more traumatic for the family members, for the people who love the person, to see them go through that over and over,” says Empath Choices for Care Executive Director Tracy Christner.
Christner says as tough as that repetitive conversation may get, there's an even harder one that needs to be done: asking your loved one how they want to be cared for and spelling it out in a living will, before they can't speak for themselves.
“Now you're not making a decision for them, you're honoring the decision they already made,” says Christner.
“It’s difficult sometimes to correlate who they were and who they are now. That's a difficult thing sometimes, but you love them just the same,” says Homeier.
Stone says she made the video knowing that her mom won't be around forever, and wants her baby to see how excited her grandma was for her arrival.
Homeier wants other caregivers to know they don’t have to go through this alone.
The Alzheimer’s Association has so many resources:
The Alzheimer's Association 24/7 Helpline provides reliable information and support serving people with memory loss, caregivers, health care professionals and the public: 1.800.272.3900.