Tony Bennett Reveals He Has Been Living With Alzheimer’s for Years

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Jazz legend Tony Bennett is opening up about living with Alzheimer’s disease. A new feature for AARP the Magazine detailed life with Alzheimer’s for the 94-year-old, who has made a wildly successful career as a performer for the last seven decades. Bennett was diagnosed with the dementia variant in 2016, shortly after he told his wife, Susan, he couldn’t remember his musicians’ names during a 2015 performance. Yet he kept performing until the COVID-19 pandemic, playing his last show on March 11, 2020, in New Jersey, and recording the follow-up to Cheek to Cheek, his hit duets album with Lady Gaga from 2014. That album is set to come out this spring, according to AARP, after Bennett recorded it with Gaga from 2018 to 2020. When Bennett’s family — including Susan, who is his full-time caretaker, and his sons Danny and Dae, his longtime manager and producer, respectively — wanted to go public about his Alzheimer’s, they asked Lady Gaga. “I wanted to check with her to make sure she was cool, because she watches his back all the time,” Danny told AARP. “She was like, ‘Absolutely, it’s just another gift that he can give to the world.’”

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as his communication has become more difficult, Bennett has continued rehearsing his music twice a week. His neurologist, Dr. Gayatri Devi, recommended he continue singing after his diagnosis. “For someone like Tony Bennett, the big high he gets from performing was very important,” Devi told AARP. And while Susan said watching him perform for audiences unaware of his Alzheimer’s diagnosis made her “a nervous friggin’ wreck,” she’s also held onto his singing. “There’s a lot about him that I miss, because he’s not the old Tony anymore,” she said. “But when he sings, he’s the old Tony.”

Tony Bennett Reveals He Is Living With Alzheimer’s