Tony Bennett’s Family Reveals his Struggle with Alzheimer’s and the Healing Power of Song

His wife and son confirm that singing great songs has proved to be the most effective medicine of all

That Tony Bennett has made a significant impact on music is undeniable. Now it is clear music has returned the favor in kind. 

Since 2016, the Bennett Family has kept silent about Tony’s official diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and its increasing effects on his cognitive state. For the first time ever, in the February/March issue of AARP The Magazine, Tony’s wife Susan and son Danny offer a rare, emotional look into his life today. Even in the face of a disease that has mostly silenced and stilled him, as soon as he hears the sound of a piano, he rises up to sing with joy, perfectly in tune, his strength and focus restored by the power of song itself.

And as the world knows well, and was reminded most recently by his great collaboration with Lady Gaga, the man is a true song champion; forever he’s honored songwriters with the heartfelt fidelity and grace he brings to their songs, and to the great melodic – usually swinging- traditions of American popular song,

Tony Bennett

In an extended report, Tony’s team of neurologists share how his twice-a-week singing sessions are stimulating his brain in positive ways, despite the progressive state of his Alzheimer’s. Lady Gaga shares special memories of her longtime mentor; their forthcoming collaboration record offers stunning vocals from both singers. 

“One of the cruelest aspects of dementia is the stigma that surrounds it,” says Sarah Lock, AARP senior vice president for brain health. “Feelings of hopelessness can cause people to resist getting diagnosed or refuse treatment. Although there’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there’s a lot that people can do to delay symptoms and improve quality of life.” 

The full feature is available in the February/March 2021 issue and available online now at www.aarp.org/magazine/. 

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