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Tony Bennett’s loved ones speak out on the legendary singer’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Bennett has been battling the neurodegenerative disorder since 2016, a recent AARP The Magazine article reveals

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Honoree Tony Bennett arrives at the Los Angeles Confidential Magazine 2012 Grammys Celebration in Beverly Hills, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012.

Honoree Tony Bennett arrives at the Los Angeles Confidential Magazine 2012 Grammys Celebration in Beverly Hills, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012.

Matt Sayles, Associated Press

Tony Bennett, the 20-time Grammy Award winning singer, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

In a recent article in AARP The Magazine, Bennett’s wife and doctor discussed the singer’s battle with the degenerative disorder, which was first diagnosed in 2016.

Alz.org defines Alzheimer’s as a brain disease characterized by progressive memory loss that can often lead to dementia. Many who suffer from the illness eventually lose their ability to speak, understand and recognize their loved ones.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bennett, who is 94 years old, still recognizes his family, but his surroundings can confuse him at times. His wife, Susan Benedetto, shared that objects like a fork or a set of house keys, can baffle him.

 “He’s not the old Tony anymore,” she states in the article, “but when he sings, he’s the old Tony.”

According to People, Bennett meets with his longtime pianist, Lee Musiker, twice a week to rehearse a 90-minute set, as per the doctor’s orders.

Dr. Gayatri Devi, the neurologist who diagnosed Bennett, told AARP The Magazine, “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.”

Bennett’s inability to to hold concerts during the pandemic, however, has been detrimental to his mental health, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“His memory, prior to the pandemic, was so much better,” Devi 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.”

According to Entertainment Weekly, since 2018 Bennett has been collaborating on a new album with Lady Gaga. Gaga and Bennett released an album together in 2014 titled “Cheek to Cheek” that debuted at no. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, and won a Grammy for best traditional pop vocal album. The new album is slated for a spring 2021 release.