Tony Bennett Alzheimer’s Diagnosis Doesn’t Stop His Love for Music

Tony Bennett, iconic artist and Queens native, has recently revealed to AARP the Magazine that he has Alzheimer’s.

Tony Bennett
Picture of Tony Bennett from AARP taken By Kelsey Bennett

Bennett and his family kept his diagnosis a secret for about four years. He was diagnosed in 2016 by a neurologist named Gayatri Devi at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that results in memory loss and interferes with other cognitive abilities. It is the most common cause of dementia.

While Bennett has not had the severe symptoms of the disease, he faces short term memory loss. His wife Susan says he doesn’t understand Alzheimer’s and feels fine physically but only because he wasn’t aware of what changed. He still recognizes loved ones but he isn’t sure about his surroundings or what’s happening. 

Susan and son Danny decided to disclose the status of his health because he can no longer entertain public interviews. His son has taken place as his manager for decades and Susan is now his primary caretaker. Since Bennett does not understand the gravity of Alzheimer’s, they decided it was best to make this decision without him. 

Before his diagnosis years ago, Bennett was a New York City native who dropped out of school to support his family after his father’s death. He also served in the Army during WWII when he was 18 and returned to New York at 20. His big break in the industry when he sang with Pearl Bailey at the Village Inn. He started with the stage name Joe Bari changed it to Tony Bennett under Joe Hope’s suggestion that the former name didn’t suit him.

In 1950 Bennett signed to Columbia Records and made several hits. Throughout his career, he faced ups and downs, married three times, and had four children. After his career hit rock bottom in the 70s, his son Danny became his manager and is responsible for his revival in the industry. Bennett met Sandra in 1985 and they resided in New York where she started her own career and he continued to sing and paint. 

In 2015, Bennett realized there was something wrong when he didn’t remember the names of musicians he recently worked with and wanted to go to the doctor. Currently, he is functioning well despite his condition due to medication, exercise, a Mediterranean diet, and his true love, singing. His latest work is an LP with his protege Lady Gaga that was recorded between 2018 and 2020.

Although his life has changed significantly under this disease, one thing he remembers is his passion for music. He continues to sing and his doctor encourages singing sessions twice a week because it stimulates his brain. After years of his health being under discretion, Bennett’s story is giving inspiration.

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