Tony Bennett has been living with Alzheimer's disease for years, but he's only now decided to make his condition public. As Entertainment Tonight shares, Bennett's diagnosis was revealed on Monday in AARP Magazine's profile of him, which saw several people close to the singer open up about his health.
Bennett's doctor refers to him as "the symbol of hope"
Bennett was first diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease back in 2016, and his doctor, Gayatri Devi, talked to the outlet about how the legendary singer is currently coping. Devi explained that Bennett has "cognitive issues, but multiple other areas of his brain are still resilient and functioning well."
Given Bennett's age, the fact his neurological facilities are still somewhat intact despite his Alzheimer's is pretty impressive! "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."
Bennett's wife says "he's the old Tony" when he performs
Bennett's wife, Susan, shared that her husband hasn't fully grasped the effect that his condition has on him since it's a neurological disorder as opposed to a physical ailment. "He'd tell me, 'Susan, I feel fine.' That's all he could process — that physically he felt great," she said. "So, nothing changed in his life. Anything that did change, he wasn't aware of."
Even though Bennett doesn't see his life differently after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Susan said he's not the same person he used to be— unless he's performing. "There's a lot about him that I miss. Because he's not the old Tony anymore," Susan shared. "But when he sings, he's the old Tony."
Bennett's son shares that Lady Gaga knew of diagnosis
Bennett's son Danny mentioned that while his father's condition was kept private for years, pop star Lady Gaga has known about it for quite a while! "I wanted to check with her to make sure she was cool," Danny said of sharing Bennett's diagnosis. "Because she watches his back all the time. She was like, 'Absolutely, it's just another gift that he can give to the world.’“
Lady Gaga has become a good friend and collaborator of Bennett, with the pair winning a Grammy back in 2015 for the jazz album that they recorded together, Cheek to Cheek. "Life is a gift - even with Alzheimer’s," Bennett shared on Twitter, along with a link to the "Thank you to Susan and my family for their support, and @AARP The Magazine for telling my story."