The legendary crooner, 94, shared the news via a piece for AARP the Magazine on Monday, explaining he had been officially diagnosed with the disease in 2016.
Alzheimer’s is characterized by a progressive memory loss that deprives its sufferers of speech, understanding, memories, and recognition of their loved ones.
“Life is a gift – even with Alzheimer’s. Thank you to (my wife) Susan and my family for their support, and AARP The Magazine for telling my story,” he tweeted.
Susan Crow, his wife of 13 years, explains in the article that Tony is “not always sure where he is or what is happening around him”.
Despite his diagnosis, Tony has continued to enjoy great success in his musical career, including a planned follow-up to his 2014 chart-topping duets album with Lady Gaga, Cheek to Cheek, scheduled to be released later this year.
The magazine piece references documentary footage of the pair that suggests the Poker Face singer was aware of his condition:
“He speaks rarely, and when he does his words are halting; at times, he seems lost and bewildered. Gaga, clearly aware of his condition, keeps her utterances short and simple (as is recommended by experts in the disease when talking to Alzheimer’s patients). ‘You sound so good, Tony,’ she tells him at one point. ‘Thanks,’ is his one-word response.”
The article also states that Tony has been encouraged by his neurologist to continue singing and performing for as long as he can.
“Both Susan and (his son and manager) Danny said that backstage, Tony could seem utterly mystified about his whereabouts. But the moment he heard the announcer’s voice boom ‘Ladies and gentlemen — Tony Bennett!’ he would transform himself into performance mode, stride out into the spotlight, smiling and acknowledging the audience’s applause,” it reads.
The report adds the star’s team of neurologists have found his twice-a-week singing sessions — when he and longtime pianist Lee Musiker run through his full 90-minute set — are stimulating his brain in positive ways, despite the progressive state of his Alzheimer’s.
Bennett’s last public performance took place on 11 March 2020, at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in New Jersey.