Tony Bennett Reveals Secret Battle with Alzheimer’s
Legendary singer Tony Bennett, 94, has revealed in a feature for AARP The Magazine that he has been battling Alzheimer’s for four years.
On Monday, Bennett tweeted, “Life is a gift -- even with Alzheimer's.Thank you to [his wife] Susan and my family for their support, and @AARP The Magazine for telling my story.”
Bennett’s family revealed that he was showing symptoms in 2015, when he was unable to remember names of fellow musicians.
A year later, he was diagnosed by doctor Dr. Gayatri Devi. Dr. Devi pointed out, “He is doing so many things, at 94, that many people without dementia cannot do. He really is the symbol of hope for someone with a cognitive disorder.”
Dr. Devi praised Bennett’s wife Susan, 54, who is his primary caregiver. He said, “I’ve been humbled by the level of devotion. She also expects a lot from him. I think her background as a teacher helps, but she’s also very much in love with him. And he rises to her expectations.”
While Tony’s disease has progressed over the years, he’s “been spared the disorientation that can prompt patients to wander from home, as well as the episodes of terror, rage or depression.”
Bennett’s wife Susan told the magazine, “There’s a lot about him that I miss. Because he’s not the old Tony anymore… But when he sings, he’s the old Tony.”
At Dr. Devi’s suggestion, Tony is still singing and performing for as long as he can to keep his brain stimulated. While his last performance was in March 2020, he rehearses twice a week, and has recorded a new album with Lady Gaga that is set for release in the spring.
Despite his circumstances, Tony is still able to perform, even when he is confused. The piece described one incident in which “Tony could seem utterly mystified about his whereabouts. But the moment he heard the announcer's voice boom, 'Ladies and gentlemen — Tony Bennett!' he would transform himself into performance mode, stride out into the spotlight, smiling and acknowledging the audience's applause.”
When the time comes, Susan is hoping that Tony dies peacefully. She explained, “Hopefully, he’ll just go to sleep one night and that will be that. I’m hoping and praying that he won’t take a turn for the worse that’s really crazy-bad.”