Tony Bennett's family reveals he has been battling Alzheimer's disease since 2016

By Zach Harper

Tony Bennett has been battling Alzheimer's disease since 2016, his family has revealed in an emotional new interview.

Susan Benedetto, the 19-time GRAMMY Award winner's wife, opened up about her husband's diagnosis in the new issue of AARP The Magazine. While Tony is still able to recognize his family and friends, but his moments of "clarity and awareness" are becoming "increasingly rarer," according to the story. Susan said Tony often does not understand the function of ordinary objects such as "a fork or a set of house keys" and he is often confused by things happening in his life.

"It's no fun arguing with someone who doesn't understand you," the 54-year-old told the publication. "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. Danny handles Tony's business affairs. We have great doctors."

Tony and Susan at the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors gala in Washington, D.C. Photo: © Paul Morigi/WireImage

Since his diagnosis, Tony has released a studio album – 2018's Love is Here to Stay, with acclaimed Canadian jazz singer Diana Krall – and has toured in support of it. But since March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has meant any events involving large gatherings and crowds have been cancelled, which has put a halt on Tony's performing.

"His memory, prior to the pandemic, was so much better," Gaytri Devi, the legend's neurologist, told AARP The Magazine. "And he's not alone. So many of my patients are negatively affected by the isolation, the inability to do the things that matter to them. For someone like Tony Bennett, the big high he gets from performing was very important."

Tony's loved ones have adapted to the new global reality by helping ensure he does things that are beneficial to his neurological health. Since 2020, they've helped him get rehearsal time at least twice a week with his pianist, GRAMMY Award winner Lee Musiker.

He also continues to make music. Tony and Lady Gaga have recorded some new songs, which they cut together in the studio from 2018 to 2020. They'll be out in spring, and their recording sessions will be part of a documentary that will be released around the same time. The superstar, who worked with Tony in 2014 on "Cheek to Cheek," was aware of his Alzheimer's while they recorded, according to the piece.

"He's not the old Tony anymore," Susan said. "But when he sings, he's the old Tony."

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