Tony Bennett is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, members of his family revealed in a new interview with AARP The Magazine.
The iconic singer, who is 94, was officially diagnosed with the progressive illness back in 2016.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of age-related dementia. More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, which causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. In the United States, it’s the sixth leading cause of death.
Tony Bennett’s duet album with Lady Gaga, “Cheek to Cheek,” topped most music charts when it came out in 2014. Bennett and Gaga then toured together in 2015.
A follow-up to “Cheek to Cheek”—recorded over the last few years—is due out this spring, as AARP noted in its article about Bennett.
As the AARP article also shared, “Alzheimer’s is characterized by a progressive memory loss that robs its sufferers of many of the gifts that we all take for granted—speech, understanding, treasured memories, recognition of loved ones—and leaves them utterly dependent on caregivers. Bennett, first diagnosed in 2016, has so far been spared the disorientation that can prompt patients to wander from home, as well as the episodes of terror, rage or depression that can accompany Alzheimer’s frightening detachment from reality; and, indeed, he might never develop these symptoms.”
The article went on poignantly, “But there was little doubt that the disease had progressed. Even his increasingly rare moments of clarity and awareness reveal the depths of his debility. At one point, as [Bennett’s wife] Susan and I stood chatting,” wrote the author of the piece, who visited Bennett at his home in New York City, “he looked up suddenly from the book in his lap and, flashing that familiar smile, asked me in his soft, sueded whisper, ‘How’s the weather outside?’ Had I not known that he and Susan had just returned from walking their dog in the park, I might not have suspected that anything was amiss.”
As Bennett’s own website points out, the singer has performed for 11 U.S. presidents over the course of his career. He is a World War II veteran “who fought in the Battle of the Bulge and participated in the liberation of a concentration camp” (Bennett served in the 63rd Infantry Division in Europe).
Bennett also “marched side-by-side with Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma to support civil rights” in this country.
“His love for his country has earned him the distinction of national treasure, and the United Nations has named him a Citizen of the World as one of their most foremost ambassadors,” the website also notes.
“Through his music, Tony Bennett has connected in unprecedented fashions with all generations of audiences.”
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–By CNJ Staff