Most people never endure the amount of loss and responsibility Bailey Kitchen has faced in her 30 years of life. But it’s earned her the grit that keeps her going as a single mom and full-time caregiver for both of her parents, who are living with brain diseases and memory loss.
Bailey’s grit is also what her 597,000 TikTok followers love her for — not to mention her ability to navigate life caring for her divorced parents and 10-year-old daughter under one roof. Her followers tune in daily to catch their challenging moments, raw conversations, and fun family antics as she documents their day-to-day reality on the social media platform under her handle @baileyrosek.
Her mother, Rhonda, has amnesia following a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2020. In 2022, her father, Scott, was diagnosed with Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, a type of dementia onset by alcohol abuse. The two divorced in 2005 after 13 years of what Bailey calls a “toxic” relationship due to Scott’s severe alcoholism.
Once-scorned spouses turned roommates is an unlikely dynamic, but the family has made it work — and one that has strengthened their relationships in ways most people would think impossible.
“I think that’s why we went viral, and I think that’s why people love my parents so much and me so much,” she says of their unlikely home dynamic and life. “Despite all the craziness and our differences, we all come together, and we all love each other.”
“I love this crazy life that I live. It’s not always sad, and it’s not always happy, but I would choose it over and over again.”
Bailey opens up in a candid conversation about being a full-time caregiver for her divorced parents and her surprising discovery that, in many ways, her father’s alcohol-induced dementia has changed his personality and their relationship for the better, helping her find purpose in a situation that has altered their lives forever.
On recombining lives under one roof:
Her mother’s TBI was the first in a series of events that led to Bailey’s new life as a full-time caregiver. The once social, independent, world-traveling Rhonda could no longer live alone, drive, work, or make her own financial decisions. She needed full-time care, and as her oldest daughter, Bailey took on that role. (Rhonda shares two children with Scott: Bailey and Paige.)
At just 26 years old, Bailey broke her lease in her new apartment, packed up the lives of her and her daughter, and moved back into Rhonda’s home in June 2020. Just two months later, her brother, David (Scott’s son from another marriage), died from complications related to his own battle with alcoholism. In the thick of unimaginable grief, Bailey adjusted to her new reality — and then another devastating life event occurred.
On January 4, 2022, Scott was hospitalized after a near-fatal suicide attempt induced by his decades-long battle with alcoholism. Although he survived, doctors were blunt about his new reality: He couldn’t hold memories for more than a few minutes. He needed full-time care, could no longer drive, and would never have a job again.
“My dad’s only options were that he could live with me, or he would live on the street,” Bailey recalls.
Scott’s alcoholism severed most relationships in his life — he didn’t have friends and had cut ties with his family. The only person he had maintained a connection with was Bailey.
“I would have been a nervous wreck if my dad went to someone else, and I didn’t know what was going on,” she says. “So for me to know that he was safe and taken care of living with me was his only option.”
Bailey moved Scott into their home in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she’s been caring for both parents ever since.
“When it was happening, I didn’t feel any pressure that I was ‘stuck’ having to do this,” she recalls. “I had the opportunity to take my mom in, and then, when my dad got sick, I had an extra bedroom in my house. I think everything happens for a reason, and me having the room to help both of my parents just to me was, like, this is obviously what we have to do.”
Together, Bailey and her parents navigate this unlikely new dynamic, sharing the unfiltered journey.
From daughter to caregiver and adjusting to changing relationships:
“I was very nervous about how it was gonna go, and I was afraid there would be fighting, or my dad would be inappropriate towards my mom,” Bailey explains.
While Rhonda doesn’t remember exactly what the relationship was like with her ex-husband and has no memories of his abuse and alcoholism, she initially expressed feeling “defensive” and “angry” when seeing him but didn’t know why.
But Bailey says her father has been “super respectful” to his ex-wife. Rhonda’s “sweet and kind” presence often makes him mistake her for a nurse or caregiver.
“I don’t make them do things together if Mom doesn’t want to, but, like, my mom loves me very much and ultimately wants to help me,” she adds. “So she will be around him, or if I ask her to help me with something for him, she will help me. But she’s not doing it for him — she’s doing it for me.”
Balancing care for both parents creates unique challenges for Bailey — like the shift in their parent-daughter relationship. It’s especially challenging for Rhonda, who has diabetes and requires more hands-on care than she’d like.
“My mom has a lot of pride, and she wants to be very independent and can’t be, so she kind of resents me a little bit,” she says. “We kind of butt heads in that way. I still want to show her respect as my mom but get that same respect back as her caregiver.”
“With my dad, we don’t have a dynamic like that because he just doesn’t have pride like that anymore,” she explains.
“Mom doesn’t have dementia — so she doesn’t forget like my dad does,” Bailey continues. “She does have very bad short-term memory loss issues, but if we get in a fight about something, she’s gonna remember it, whereas my dad [can’t].”
While the relationship between Bailey and her parents continues to change, she doesn’t see the change as all negative. In fact, Scott’s personality and demeanor have changed for the better, making it easier for everyone in the home to care for him.
Healing through building a new type of relationship with her father:
Bailey admits that she also experienced a “toxic” relationship with her father, but his dementia has brought out a side of him her family has never experienced.
“There are people who go through this journey, and their parents change into these mean people, but my dad was mean before, and he turned the opposite,” she explains.
“He doesn’t know he has a brain injury. He doesn’t know that he’s not remembering things. But he knows that I’m still there helping him,” she says.
Scott is often confused about who Bailey is — he’ll think she’s his wife, a sister, or a friend, and only every so often understands that she’s his daughter. Either way, he recognizes that he’s fond of her and loves her.
“I make him every meal, and he’s so thankful. Everything I say to him, he just smiles and hugs me. He tells me he’s proud of me. He was never like that, and he never expressed anything like that before.”
Bailey says the change in Scott’s demeanor with his dementia gives her the feeling that this sweet, tender, and kind person is who her dad really is — who he always would’ve been if he had been sober and present throughout her childhood.
“It’s sweet to hear him say these things, and I know he’s always felt this way. He just didn’t know how to say it, and he just drowned it all out with alcohol,” she says. “My dad was a horrible person before, but now I just hope that everybody sees him for who he really is. I feel he deserves some peace, and if I can give him that, then I will give him that.”
Bailey is thankful for the way her dad is now and says it makes “having this really sad diagnosis a lot easier” and that he’s “the healthiest he’s ever been since he was a kid.”
Scott is now medicated, has gained some much-needed weight, no longer smokes cigarettes, and hasn’t had a drop of alcohol since his January 2022 hospitalization.
“He might not have the opportunity to live a normal life, but he has the opportunity to live a happy life now, a better life in many ways,” she says. “I’m not the one with dementia, so I don’t want to say it for him, but in many ways, ever since my dad’s diagnosis, his life has gotten progressively better.”
While Scott is much healthier and happier, the reality of his diagnosis means he is frequently scared and worried, feelings Bailey has learned to help comfort him through.
“If he’s going to be scared and not know where he is, then I’d rather him be here with me,” she says. Bailey says communicating with her dad when he is scared and confused is all “trial and error.”
“You talk to him how you would want somebody to talk to you if you were in their shoes going through something scary like that — a person doesn’t know where they are, what’s going on, who they are, who your, every 10 minutes of the day every day the rest of their lives. You don’t want to be anything kind to somebody experiencing that,” she explains.
“My dad and I have always based our relationship on honesty. Even before he got sick, I always said, ‘We’re gonna be honest with each other because that’s the only way this relationship’s gonna work.’ And so I still hold those values now,” she says. “But I learned very quickly what he can and can’t handle. If you scare him, or if you tell him something insensitively, he is very mad.”
Some topics can be too overwhelming for Scott to process and respond to, most notably, conversations about the passing of his son, David.
“Unfortunately, you can’t always tell him the truth every time he asks. Because when I do, he gets very upset, like when I bring up my brother,” she says. “It’s like a parent finding out their child died for the first time. What’s easier for me is telling a little lie, but a lie that keeps him safe.”
Bailey’s found that telling her father that they will “get through it together” is sometimes all he needs to hear.
“I tell him we’re going to get through it together and that he’s not alone, and he almost always feels better,” she says. “If somebody’s there for him to talk to, he’s good. He just wants to know that everybody’s okay. At the end of the day, he’s sitting there worried about not even himself but other people. He’s one of the most caring, loving people I’ve ever met.”
The videos of these compassionate conversations are often captured on the family’s TikTok account, gaining praise from thousands of followers who thank Bailey for sharing the raw and vulnerable moments.
Turning daily life into engaging, educational content:
The family takes neighborhood walks, enjoys time at the local farmer’s market, and goes shopping together. But the real quality time happens right inside the home when they’re making their TikTok videos, engaging in conversation during live streams, or creating content that raises awareness and gives a look inside their daily lives.
Bailey posts light-hearted videos of fun family antics. She also answers questions from followers, tells stories about the evolution of her relationship with her father, and offers words of support for those who may have grown up with turbulent parental relationships or as the children of people with a substance use disorder.
Through this content, she connects and heals with a greater community and has become a well-known and celebrated voice within the online dementia community.
“It’s something fun that we like to do. We enjoy spending that time together, and it doesn’t give me anxiety because we’re in the house, and everyone’s happy,” Bailey says. “My parents love the attention. They love people like calling them nice stuff, and they love the compliments. Anytime I have to make a video, they both ask to be in it.”
Bailey does not make any money from TikTok or its Creator Fund — only brand deals she’s earned through company partnerships. The sole reason Bailey creates content for the platform is for community and awareness — two things she relies on as a caregiver. That’s what makes it easy for her to brush off the occasional naysayers who say she’s “exploiting” her parents.
Before filming, Bailey always asks Scott for his permission to post videos. He’s always excited to post and share.
“If my parents are cool with me sharing the videos, then I’m going to share the videos. And until they don’t want to be shown. I really couldn’t care what anyone else has to say,” she says.
“I’m not out here embarrassing my parents. I’m not out here showing like the incontinence stuff or them doing dumb things or falling and injuring themselves,” she says. “I’ve talked to my dad about it. I’ll talk to him privately and on live streams about why we do what we do.”
“He says, ‘Bailey, whatever makes you happy, I support.’”
On finding support as a caregiver and prioritizing mental health:
“At the beginning of my journey with caregiving, I used to feel really guilty about [prioritizing my alone time], and sometimes I still do feel guilty about it,” she says. “I’m trying to make more time for myself, and I’m trying to realize that I can be a caregiver and also still my own person. It’s just really hard.”
Separated from the living room by one thin wall, Bailey’s bedroom remains her only semi-private space in the house, and she’s made it her “sanctuary.” Cameras allow her to monitor her parents throughout the house while she decompresses behind closed doors.
She creates content for TikTok, plays video games, takes baths, and enjoys video calls with her friends. She rarely gets to leave the house, and vacations are only possible to enjoy with detailed planning well in advance.
Bailey admits that’s the one part of caregiving she finds the most challenging — feeling isolated or “trapped” in her home. She’s learning to find ways to combat the difficult emotions and remain focused on the present.
“I tell myself, and I tell other people going through something similar, that it’s okay to feel the way that we feel, and we’re not wrong for feeling this way,” she says. “I tell myself this is all temporary, and one day my parents are gonna be gone, and I’m going to wish they weren’t.”
“It’s stressful, and life is hard. And sometimes you just want to hide in your room and cry, and sometimes that’s all I can do,” she continues. “But I motivate myself by thinking of other people.”
Beyond her family, she thinks of other caregivers experiencing these same challenges and emotions. In fact, it’s the community she’s found through social media engagement that helps her celebrate herself and her identity as a young woman simply trying to play the hand she’s been dealt.
“I could not imagine doing this honestly without the Internet,” she admits. “TikTok primarily has been a huge support system for me, and the dementia community is the best community I’ve ever been a part of.”
For the first two years of Bailey’s caregiving journey, when she only cared for her mom, she didn’t have the internet caregiving community to turn to and believed having it would’ve helped drastically.
“It was miserable, and it was lonely and sad. I needed someone to tell me it does get easier, that it will be okay, and you’re not alone in doing this.”
Once she began caring for her dad, she realized there was “no way that there’s not other people on this earth taking care of both of their parents with brain illnesses” and that maybe there were people who could help.
“And then they did,” she says, “And then I met so many people. It’s just nice to get recognized for what you’re doing by people who don’t know you and don’t have to say it.”
At times, Bailey’s experience as a caregiver can feel exhausting. Still, the community she’s found and the second chance at a relationship with her father feel like silver linings to what she and her family have endured.
“I’m just so glad that he and I have this opportunity now, and despite the diagnosis and sadness that it comes with, it’s worth it to me,” she says.
“Obviously, there are times when I’m mad that I have to take care of both of my parents, and I was in my twenties when that happened, and it wasn’t what anybody expected. Yes, I do feel resentment sometimes, but never enough to where I wish I didn’t do this,” she says. “If I were to go back in time, for both of my parents, I would do it all over again, every time.”