Despite the diagnosis, the jazz icon recorded a new album with Lady Gaga — set to be released this spring — marking the pair’s first collaborative LP since the release of their successful 2014 album Cheek to Cheek.
Bennett’s wife, Susan Crow Benedetto, said his doctor had recommended he keep up with music as the disease progressed, as it has been shown to help connect patients with their surroundings. His family suspects that will be unable to do promotional interviews for the upcoming album, which led to their decision to go public with his diagnosis six years after the onset of symptoms.
As described by AARP, Alzheimer’s is the most common form of age-related dementia, robbing individuals of their memory relating to speech, understanding, memories and recognition of loved ones, leaving them incredibly dependent on caregivers.
According to the report, Bennett has so far been spared from experiencing episodes of terror, rage, depression and location disorientation. His wife says he can still recognize family members but he’s not always sure of what’s happening around him and is often stumped by everyday objects.
Bennett’s doctor, Dr. Gayartri Devi, says he is experiencing some “cognitive issues” but that “multiple other areas of his brain are still resilient and functioning well.”
“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,” Devi added.
In documentary footage from studio sessions with Gaga, the article notes that Bennett rarely speaks.
“You sound so good, Tony,” the Chromatica singer tells him at one point. “Thanks,” he responds.
Gaga was supportive of the family’s decision to share his diagnosis with the public, telling Bennett’s son Danny, “It’s just another gift that he can give to the world.”
According to the report, the new album with the pop star will feature “lush, gorgeous duets, with both singers in superb voice.”