Why Are TikTok Teens Listening to an Album About Dementia?

Among them is Owen Amble, 16, from Spokane, Wash. He was drawn to “Everywhere at the End of Time” because his grandfather was recently diagnosed with dementia. “I want him to be OK, and I just wanted to know, like, what was going on,” he said in a phone interview.

On Sept. 17, Owen posted a TikTok about how the album had reduced him to tears. “Literally the definition of pain,” he wrote in the caption. “Never cried listening to something.” His video has been viewed more than 340,000 times.

“It made me feel like I was so sad, but I was also like, so happy, because it truly made me appreciate this part of my life so much more,” he said of the album. “I’m still a kid, I don’t have a lot of these responsibilities. And I’m just making all these memories. But to think that one day, everything I’ve ever done can just disappear, because of my memory. It’s so horrifying.” He said the album helped him understand his grandfather’s illness.

“The composer of this music really was onto something in terms of being able to — through the medium of music — lead a younger generation on a journey through the sounds of what the brain is going through, through a dementing process,” said Brian Browne, the president of Dementia Care Education, which trains people who work with dementia patients. “It’s a much welcome thing, because it produces the empathy that’s needed.”

Some of the TikTok videos, which have been remarked upon by several digital media outlets, challenged others to sit through the record as a test of endurance, describing physiological symptoms they experienced after doing so. “I really shouldnt have listened to all 6 hours, my body feels numb & i wont stop crying,” one user wrote. “You feel more and more like you have dementia,” Owen said of his listening experience. “By the end, my mind was so fogged.”

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