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Tony Bennett has Alzheimer’s disease.
The legendary singer’s family confirmed the news in a new profile for AARP Magazine, saying he was diagnosed in 2016 but started to show real signs of decline two years later, while he was recording an album with Lady Gaga.
“There’s a lot about him that I miss,” his wife, Susan Bennett, told the magazine. “Because he’s not the old Tony anymore … But when he sings, he’s the old Tony.”
The 94-year-old’s condition has progressed since his diagnosis, but according to the magazine, he has thankfully “been spared the disorientation that can prompt patients to wander from home, as well as the episodes of terror, rage or depression.”
Bennett first expressed concern about his health in 2015 when he had trouble remembering fellow musicians’ names. Susan made a list of the names for him to keep on his piano, which displeased him. Instead, he wanted to go to a doctor, and a neurologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City confirmed the diagnosis in 2016.
Tony Bennett, seen here in November 2019, has Alzheimer’s disease.Getty Images
“He is doing so many things, at 94, that many people without dementia cannot do,” Dr. Gayatri Devi, who diagnosed Bennett, told the magazine. “He really is the symbol of hope for someone with a cognitive disorder.”
Susan, who is Bennett’s third wife, is the “Way You Look Tonight” singer’s main caregiver, also overseeing his Mediterranean diet and exercise regimen, both of which have been shown to help slow memory loss.
“I’ve been humbled by the level of devotion,” Devi shared. “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.”
Susan Bennett is husband Tony Bennett’s main caregiver as he fights Alzheimer’s. They are pictured here in 2019.Getty Images
Devi encouraged Susan, who has been married to Bennett since 2007, to keep her husband singing and performing for as long as possible, as it would keep his brain stimulated. Bennett continues to rehearse twice a week. His last public performance was in March 2020.
Susan, 54, said she hopes the end is peaceful for her husband, recalling that Sean Connery’s wife said that when he died last year after a battle with dementia, he passed quietly in his sleep.
“I’m hoping for that with Tony,” Susan told AARP. “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.”