Tony Bennett reveals Alzheimer’s disease battle: ‘Life is a gift’


Tony Bennett has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

The revelation was made by AARP magazine on Monday. 

“Life is a gift – even with Alzheimer’s,” the crooner tweeted. “Thank you to [my wife] Susan and my family for their support, and AARP.”

According to the outlet, the 94-year-old was officially diagnosed with the progressive disease, which impacts memory and speech, in 2016. Alzheimer’s is noted as the most common form of age-related dementia.

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Tony Bennett, 94, was officially diagnosed with the progressive disease in 2016.
(Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images for Children’s Diabetes Foundation)

Despite the diagnosis, Bennett has recently enjoyed some of the most successful years of his decades-long career. His duet album with Lady Gaga, titled “Cheek to Cheek,” was a major chart-topper when it was released in 2014. The pair went on to tour together in 2015.

The outlet even shared that a follow-up to “Cheek to Cheek,” which was recorded between 2018 and 2020, will be released in the spring.

“He is doing so many things, at 94, that many people without dementia cannot do,” Gayatri Devi, the neurologist who diagnosed Bennett, told the outlet. “He really is the symbol of hope for someone with a cognitive disorder.”

Bennett first noticed something was wrong in 2015 when he complained to his wife that he couldn’t remember the names of the musicians who were on stage with him during a performance. 

“So, we got him a list that he put on the piano,” Susan shared. “But he wasn’t happy about it.”

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Lady Gaga, left, performs with Tony Bennett during her 'JAZZ & PIANO' residency at Park Theater at Park MGM on January 20, 2019, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Lady Gaga, left, performs with Tony Bennett during her ‘JAZZ & PIANO’ residency at Park Theater at Park MGM on January 20, 2019, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
(Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Park MGM Las Vegas)

While Susan initially believed the memory lapse was part of the aging process, Bennett wanted to see a doctor.

The outlet referenced raw documentary footage of the recording sessions for Bennett’s new album where he was “considerably more muted.” When he did speak, his words were “halting” and at times, he appeared “lost and bewildered.” Gaga, 34, who was aware of his condition, kept her utterances short and simple, as recommended by experts.

Today, Bennett receives plenty of support from his family. Devi said she was impressed by Susan’s devotion as a caregiver.  The couple tied the knot in 2007.

“I’ve been humbled by the level of devotion,” Devi explained. “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.”

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Tony Bennett and Susan Crow backstage at the 63rd sold-out show of Billy Joel's residency at Madison Square Garden on April 12, 2019, in New York City.

Tony Bennett and Susan Crow backstage at the 63rd sold-out show of Billy Joel’s residency at Madison Square Garden on April 12, 2019, in New York City.
(Myrna M. Suarez/Getty Images)

While Bennett doesn’t wander as some do, Susan is always with him. His son Danny handles the patriarch’s business affairs. 

Bennett has also been encouraged to maintain his singing, which helps stimulate the brain. His last performance was on March 11, 2020, shortly before the coronavirus pandemic put all live performances on pause. Still. Bennett has singing sessions at home to stay active.

“There’s a lot about him that I miss,” Susan noted. “Because he’s not the old Tony anymore. But when he sings, he’s the old Tony.”





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