The 94-year-old singer was first diagnosed the progressive brain disorder in 2016, but he kept performing until March 2020.
"Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks," according to the National Institute on Aging. Alzheimer's is also understood to be the 6th leading cause of death in America, and nearly 5 million people in the country have already been diagnosed with the condition. Unfortunately, legendary singer Tony Bennett has been living with Alzheimer's for the past few years, it has been revealed by his family, according to TODAY. According to the publication, the 94-year-old singer was first diagnosed with the progressive brain disorder in 2016.
Legendary singer Tony Bennett is battling Alzheimer’s disease, his wife and son tell AARP The Magazine. The magazine says the 94-year-old singer endures “increasingly rarer moments of clarity and awareness” but continues to sing. https://t.co/fhTeodMOAk— The Associated Press (@AP) February 1, 2021
However, he continued to perform until March last year until the pandemic began, his wife and son shared in the latest issue of AARP The Magazine. While Bennett can still recognize relatives, but often, he finds himself unable to progress what is happening around him, says Susan, 54. “He is doing so many things, at 94, that many people without dementia cannot do," his neurologist, Dr. Gayatri Devi, said. "He really is the symbol of hope for someone with a cognitive disorder." Susan, his primary caregiver, says it's not been a bed of roses taking care of Bennett.
He’s 94 and he has dementia. I always hesitate when I read about those who are in their late 80’s and into their 90’s as having Alzheimer’s. My Dad passed at 72. 10 yrs previous he started to show some signs of dementia. The doctor insisted it was Alzheimer’s & put him on meds /1— Roxanne Wright (@roxannelwright) February 1, 2021
"I have my moments and it gets very difficult,” Susan said. "It's no fun arguing with someone who doesn't understand you. But I feel badly talking about it because we are so much more fortunate than so many people with this diagnosis. We have such a good team." It is only understandable that Bennett continued to perform, despite his diagnosis because music has been such an integral part of his life. The World War II veteran had his first song in 1951 and continued to perform 90-minute sets after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Even then he had his charm, which is why no one even doubted his condition.
My heart goes out to them. I am dealing with my dad who has Alz and cancer. I don't know what's worse--the physical toll it takes on the carer or watching the person slip away. Granted, I imagine his family can afford the help they need, but it's still hard.— Hint ol’ Descartes (@optphilosophy) February 1, 2021
Even if he was disoriented backstage, he had no issue performing once his name was announced. "But that's because he already didn't understand," his wife said. "He would ask me, ‘What is Alzheimer's?’ I would explain, but he wouldn't get it. He'd tell me, ‘Susan, I feel fine.’ That's all he could process — that physically he felt great. So, nothing changed in his life. Anything that did change, he wasn't aware of." A healthy diet and regular exercise are recommended by doctors in preventing Alzheimer's disease, and now Bennett is said to be working out thrice a week with a trainer and practicing the Mediterranean diet.
Thank you, Tony Bennett. You have a generous heart. Whether you are singing or sharing your journey as you face Alzheimer’s disease, the world has always needed—will always treasure—your voice. ✌🏾🙏🏾♥️— Felicia (@feliciaw5853) February 1, 2021
“Singing is everything to him,” Susan said. "Everything. It has saved his life many times. Many times. Through divorces and things. If he ever stops singing, that's when we'll know …There's a lot about him that I miss. Because he's not the old Tony anymore. But when he sings, he's the old Tony." Before his illness, Tony was known as a meticulous and hard-driving perfectionist in the studio. While this is a hard topic to talk about, it's not going to help anyone by staying silent about it. Gill Livingston, M.D., a University College London psychiatrist specializing in dementias, said that the silence around Alzheimer's only causes misconceptions and stereotypes to accumulate around the disease.
News like this makes my heart sink. Maybe we could get those brilliant scientists who produced vaccines against coronavirus could look at providing answers to Alzheimer’s— LYNDHURST (@Lyndhurstfm) February 1, 2021
This in turn does nothing but create a vicious cycle that leads to further stigmatization and fear. “Panicking and hiding away is really unhelpful,” she said. “What we want is for people to be as open as they can, open within themselves and within their families, so that they can be supported in the things they can't do, and be helped to live a relatively full life. Support makes a great deal of difference.” Soon enough, Alzheimer's will rise to epidemic proportions and staying silent will no longer be an option. Hopefully, Tony Bennett's story will serve as an inspiration to people to be more vocal about the condition as was his life and his music.
God bless Tony Bennett. He is a national treasure.— Jenn Crosby 😷 (@jdsullins1) February 1, 2021
My grandma and great grandma died of Alzheimer's. It is a devastating disease. I pray for my mom everyday, hoping she doesn't get it.