Tony Bennett, 94, Reveals Alzheimer’s Battle

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Tony Bennett, via his Facebook page in 2019

Tony Bennett has revealed that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease four years ago. In a new interview with AARP, released on Feb. 1, 2021, the singing legend and his wife, Susan, shared the heartbreaking news. Bennett is 94.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of age-related dementia, described succinctly by interviewer John Colapinto as “a progressive memory loss that robs its sufferers of… speech, understanding, treasured memories, recognition of loved ones… and leaves them utterly dependent on caregivers.”

Bennett can still recognize family members though he is frequently disoriented of his surroundings.

The signs were evident during recording sessions with Lady Gaga in 2018, when the pair were working on a follow-up album of standards to 2014’s Cheek to Cheek. Colapinto describes watching raw footage of the sessions, two years after his diagnosis, when Bennett’s “words are halting; at times, he seems lost and bewildered. Gaga, clearly aware of his condition, keeps her utterances short and simple. “You sound so good, Tony,” she says. “Thanks,” is his one-word response. As the writer notes, “The pain and sadness in Gaga’s face is clear at such moments–but never more so than in an extraordinarily moving sequence in which Tony sings a solo passage of a love song. Gaga looks on, from behind her mic, her smile breaking into a quiver, her eyes brimming, before she puts her hands over her face and sobs.”

When Colapinto asks Bennett, “Are you excited about the new record with Gaga?”, Bennett stared silently.

Watch Bennett and Gaga sing a favorite from their 2014 album

The decision to reveal Bennett’s condition was made jointly by Susan Bennett and Tony’s oldest son, Danny. Read the moving story, “Breaking the Silence,” in AARP‘s Feb./March 2021 issue, here.

“One of the cruelest aspects of dementia is the stigma that surrounds it,” says Sarah Lock, AARP’s senior vice president for brain health. “Feelings of hopelessness can cause people to resist getting diagnosed or refuse treatment. Although there’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there’s a lot that people can do to delay symptoms and improve quality of life.”

Related: Our feature story on Bennett

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  1. mick62
    #1 mick62 1 February, 2021, 10:40

    God bless you, Tony.

    Reply this comment
  2. Bluzrider
    #2 Bluzrider 2 February, 2021, 06:17

    If you happen to be a caregiver for a person battling this disease, then you know, just how much it can rob you of the great memories of your life.

    You also know that you need all the help you can get to battle this just for the help you need to take care of your loved one.

    I am the director of the Alzheimer’s Research Association, where all we do is take care of the Caregiver. You can reach us at http://www.alzra.org, and we will be there for you with as much help as we can give to you.

    Stop by and see if we can help you or your family, we would love to be able to help.

    Joe Lucido
    Director
    Alzheimer’s Research Association
    joe@alzra.org

    So we can all listen to Tony Bennett again

    Reply this comment

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