One of the cruellest aspects of dementia is how it strips away everything the person loves. That might explain why a TikTok video of a 92-year-old woman remembering how to play Beethoven on the piano has gone viral. It’s both beautiful and provides hope for the family of those with loved ones experiencing the early stages of this awful condition.
The video features Elaine Lebar of Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, who lives in a dedicated senior living complex. Despite suffering from dementia for ten years, Elaine plays the piano for her neighbours every Sunday.
Normally, this would be a treat only experienced by the residents of the community and their visitors. But, lucky for us, Elaine’s daughter Randi has been recording the concerts.
It’s a way of preserving these lovely memories of her mother when the day inevitably comes that she’s unable to play anymore. In this particular video, we see Elaine sitting at her piano, claiming she doesn’t know this particular piece of music. However, moments later, her fingers touch the keys, and her memory comes flooding back. She plays Beethoven’s wonderfully romantic Moonlight Sonata effortlessly.
Randi shared this video on Facebook as she has so many others. She was amazed and delighted when the videos regularly got more than 100 views. Sometimes these videos were her only way of feeling connected to her mother when they were separated for months during the pandemic. When she was finally able to visit again, Randi recorded Elaine playing Claire de Lune.
She wrote the caption, “My 92+ yo mother with dementia struggles through Claire de Lune. Playing for me live for the first time since lockdown”.
The video went viral in no time, and people began to comment to request that Elaine play specific pieces of music. Randi and Elaine are delighted by the response as they posted the videos to raise awareness of the devastating impact dementia has on the person and their loved ones.
Their reach must have extended further than they could have dreamed with the Beethoven video. To date, it has been viewed more than 2 million times, and many of the commenters share their own experience of dementia. Let’s hope Elaine makes many more performances for Randi, and the whole world, to treasure.