MONDAY, Feb. 1, 2021 (HealthDay News) — As Tony Bennett releases what may well be his last album, his family has disclosed that the 1950s crooner who became popular with younger audiences decades later has Alzheimer’s disease.
His wife, Susan, made the announcement in an interview published in AARP magazine. She said Bennett, 94, is content and happy and took the diagnosis calmly.
“But that’s because he already didn’t understand,” she 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.”
But Bennett, who was still playing more than a hundred dates a year when he married Susan in 2007 at age 80, noticed something was wrong during a 2015 tour, AARP reported. He told Susan he couldn’t remember the names of the musicians on stage. She thought it was normal aging. He wanted to see a doctor.
“He is doing so many things, at 94, that many people without dementia cannot do,” Devi said. “He really is the symbol of hope for someone with a cognitive disorder.”
Devi attributed Bennett’s high functioning to his strong family support — especially from Susan, his primary caregiver.
“I am humbled by the level of devotion,” Devi told AARP. “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.”
According to the magazine, Bennett has so far been spared the disorientation that can lead Alzheimer’s patients to wander from home, as well as episodes of terror, rage or depression that often accompany the disease. But Bennett is not always sure where he is or what is happening around him, according to the magazine, and common objects like a fork can be baffling to him.