Tony Bennett, 94, reveals he’s suffering from Alzheimer’s disease after 2016 diagnosis

TONY Bennett has revealed he's been battling Alzheimer's since 2016.

The iconic singer, 94, said that "life is a gift" as he opened up on the progressive brain disorder and thanked his family for their "support".

Tony tweeted on Monday: "Life is a gift – even with Alzheimer's. Thank you to [his wife] Susan and my family for their support, and AARP, The Magazine for telling my story."

Alzheimer's is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, over time, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.

Tony, his wife Susan and his neurologists took part in a lengthy interview with AARP, which detailed his fight with the condition.

According to the magazine, he has 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".

In most people, the symptoms first appear in their mid-60s and eventually leaves them dependent on caregivers.

The article states that while Tony is "functioning well", it is clear that he is feeling the effects of Alzheimer's.

“His expression had a masklike impassivity that changed only slightly to dim awareness when Susan placed a hand on his shoulder, leaned over and said: ‘This is John, Tone. He’s come to talk to us about the new album,'" the outlet reported.

Tony reportedly began to show signs of his decline while recording his chart-topping duets album, Cheek To Cheek, with Lady Gaga, two years before his diagnosis.

A follow-up album – recorded between 2018 and early 2020 – will be released in the spring, according to the article.

Gaga was "clearly aware" of Tony's condition in documentary footage of their sessions for the new album, AARP reported.

"He speaks rarely, and when he does his words are halting; at times, he seems lost and bewildered," the outlet states.

"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."

Tony's wife, Susan – who he married in 2007 – has been caring for the legendary musician.

“I have my moments and it gets very difficult. It's no fun arguing with someone who doesn't understand you,” she told AARP.

“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, David helping us with the exercise.”

She added that because Tony does not wander, she is fine to leave him with someone else for an hour when she leaves the apartment to run errands.

Susan said the jazz singer is happy and took his diagnosis calmly.

"But that's because he already didn't understand. 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,'" she said.

"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."

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out simple tasks.

In most people, symptoms first appear in their mid-60s and is the most common cause of dementia in older adults.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s affects people in their 30s to their mid-60s and is very rare.

Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s, though symptoms may vary from person to person.

Other early stage indicators can be struggles to find the right words, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment.

Since lockdown struck last March, an assistant has been buying their groceries to limit his exposure to Covid.

Tony's neurologist, Gayatri Devi, said he is "functioning well" with the disease and is a "symbol of hope" for people with a cognitive disorder.

“He is doing so many things, at 94, that many people without dementia cannot do. He really is the symbol of hope for someone with a cognitive disorder."

His team of neurologists said he's taking part in singing sessions twice a week, which are stimulating his brain in positive ways.

Tony – real name Anthony Dominick Benedetto – has four children. He shares Antonia, 46, and Joanna, 51, with his ex-wife Sandra and sons Danny, 67, and Dae, 66, with ex-wife Patricia Beech.

He has produced big band, jazz and pop hits during his 60-year career, including Rags To Riches, I Left My Heart In San Francisco and The Good Life.

The jazz icon made history in 2011 when he was the oldest act to ever make it to number one on the Billboard 200 chart with his album Duets II. 

He did it again when his Lady Gaga collaboration debuted at number one.

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