Singer Tony Bennett Loses Fight with Alzheimer's

Tony Bennett lost his fight with Alzheimer's at age 96. Many of the celebrities we grew up with over the years are experiencing changes in their health. Planning for our future is essential to retirement planning.

Recommend This Page
Singer Tony Bennett Loses Fight with Alzheimer's
4 Min Read February 1st, 2021 Updated:July 23rd, 2023

Tony Bennett, a cherished icon with one of the most distinctive voices in American pop music history, passed away on Friday, July 21, 2023, at 96, just shy of his birthday, as announced by his publicist Sylvia Weiner. Bennett's death occurred in his hometown of New York.

You knew him for songs like "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," Tony Bennett had revealed through the AARP that he had Alzheimer's since 2015.  

Bennett sold over 50 million records had announced in 2021 that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Bennett, who was 95 years old then, said that he was "determined to keep doing what I love" and would continue to perform as long as he could.

His diagnosis came as a shock to many, but it was not entirely unexpected. He had been open about his struggles with memory loss in recent years, and he had even canceled some concerts due to his health. Despite his diagnosis, Bennett had remained active in the music world. He released an album of duets with Lady Gaga in 2021 and has continued to perform occasional concerts. In 2022, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Joe Biden.

The Chicago Tribune editorial page wrote that Bennett had struggled to remember names and faces, but the paper noted that when he started to sing, he went on autopilot, "the familiar smile returning to his face and the notes and even the lyrics flowing like good wine." 

For anyone who watched his late-in-life work with Lady Gaga, here was a remarkable example of someone who showed the world one of the oft-forgotten truths about a condition that afflicts so many Americans: People with advanced levels of dementia still can contribute a great deal, especially if it is something they have done for years.

Nearly 50 million people worldwide have Alzheimer's disease or related dementia, according to the Alzheimer's Association. This number is expected to rise to 150 million by 2050 as the population ages. Alzheimer's is a common affliction, affecting one in ten people 65 and older. Most people who have Alzheimer's are women. The majority of people with dementia are older, but a growing number of people have early-onset Alzheimer's disease, primarily because of better diagnosis of the condition.

The symptoms of Alzheimer's can vary, but they typically include memory loss, difficulty thinking and problem-solving, changes in personality and behavior, and difficulty with language. There is no cure for Alzheimer's, but there are treatments that can help to manage the symptoms.

Family Revealed in AARP Interview

A feature report published by AARP magazine had revealed his condition to the world. Bennett thanked AARP at the time on Twitter for letting him tell his story. 

"Life is a gift -- even with Alzheimer's. Thank you to Susan and my family for their support and @AARP The Magazine for telling my story," he wrote.

Social media has reacted to this revelation.

The AARP story said at the time, he had been spared the disorientation that often causes people to wander from home. Plus, Bennett has not had any terror, rage, or depression episodes that often go along with the disease. 

His singing and his music have been benefiting him, slowing the progression of the condition. Bennett has been able to perform, being confused just before a performance, but when the announcer introduces him, he can get into performance mode.

Music Helped Bennett and Others With Dementia

Music is a powerful medicine for many with dementia, according to Dan Cohen, MSW principal of Right to Music that advocates for the widespread adoption of personal music for caring for those with dementia.

Staying connected with our favorite songs is calming, enjoyable, and helps reduce feelings of isolation and depression. This, in turn, reduces caregiver stress. If persons who are moving through the stages of dementia are calmer and caregivers are not overwhelmed, the need to find a long-term care facility is reduced.

Cohen explains that some parts of the brain remain relatively intact, allowing people with dementia to still enjoy their favorite music. This could explain how Bennett is functioning reasonably well, especially when performing his favorite songs. The precise mechanism that causes music to have this type of impact remains a mystery, and Cohen says music therapy for those with dementia works most of the time.

There is no downside to trying; no side effects if it doesn't work. The key is keeping the music personal, true favorites.

Perceived Sigma

The family had previously kept quiet about his condition, largely due to the societal stigma attached to the disease. However, as an increasing number of Americans reach their 60s and 70s — the typical age range for initial signs of cognitive decline — it becomes difficult to overlook the issue.

Families often find themselves stepping in to provide the necessary care and supervision for loved ones experiencing cognitive decline. A common misconception is that health insurance, including Medicare, covers this type of long-term health care — which it does not. Consequently, families either become caregivers, drain assets for professional care services, or experience a combination of both.

Long-Term Care Insurance stands alone in offering benefits for dementia and other long-term healthcare needs that arise from changes in one's health, physical state, and mental well-being.

Caregiving is Physically and Emotionally Draining on Family

Providing care is a task that comes with considerable physical and emotional demands. Adult children frequently find themselves in a role reversal, essentially becoming their parents' parents. The added responsibility of caregiving for a mother or father can lead to a multitude of challenges, especially when trying to balance their own career and familial duties.

Professional long-term care services carry a high price tag, and these costs are continually escalating due to increased demand and a dwindling pool of caregivers. You can utilize the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator to gain insight into the present and anticipated cost of long-term care.

Bennett One of a Growing List of Celebrities with Memory Problems

Tony Bennett's Alzheimer's disease and his death continue to bring attention to the growing number of celebrities who have had to address memory problems.

In recent years, several well-known figures have revealed that they have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia, including:

  • Gene Wilder: The actor, best known for his roles in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" and "Young Frankenstein," was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2013. He died in 2016.
  • Mary Tyler Moore: The actress, best known for her role in the sitcom "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2014. She died in 2017.
  • Muhammad Ali: The boxer, who was known as "The Greatest," was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1984. He was later diagnosed with dementia pugilistica, a form of brain damage that is often associated with boxing. He died in 2016.

These are just a few of the many celebrities who have been diagnosed with memory problems. As the population ages, the number of people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia is expected to increase. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of these conditions so that you can get an early diagnosis and treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Memory Problems

The signs and symptoms of memory problems can vary, and families should pay attention to these signs in their older loved ones. These signs include:

  • Forgetting recent events
  • Having trouble remembering names
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Having difficulty making decisions
  • Losing track of conversations
  • Repeating oneself
  • Having trouble finding words

Of course, we, too, are getting older. Today we can plan for the financial costs and burdens of aging with affordable Long-Term Care Insurance. However, because of medical underwriting, you should consider adding an LTC policy before you retire. Most people do so in their 40s or 50s. 

Recommend This Page

About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

It's a common misconception to equate long-term health care with nursing home stays. In reality, most long-term care is administered at home or in assisted living communities, not in traditional nursing home settings. The image of long-term care many people hold, defined by sterile hospital-like environments and round-the-clock medical intervention, is far from today's reality. The truth is long-term care has evolved to be more inclusive, accessible, and focused on the individual's quality of life.

The vast majority of seniors are cared for at home, with family members or professional caregivers aiding with day-to-day activities, medical requirements, and personal care. Alternatively, some seniors choose assisted living communities. These facilities provide a less institutional, more home-like setting, striking a balance between the need for care and the desire for independent living. These welcoming environments encourage autonomy and foster social interaction, all while ensuring that necessary care services are readily available.

However, it's crucial to note that the costs of long-term care, whether received at home, in an assisted living community, or in a nursing home, are on the rise. With the growing senior population, demand for these services is high and projected to increase. The escalating costs can quickly drain a family's savings and significantly strain personal finances during retirement.

·        LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator - Find Your Location

Long-Term Care Insurance has become vital to comprehensive retirement planning to mitigate this financial risk. These policies are specifically designed to cover the costs of long-term care services, providing a financial safety net and peace of mind.

However, securing Long-Term Care Insurance is not a decision to be taken lightly or left until the need for care is imminent. It's a step that should be taken in advance, typically before retirement, as part of a forward-thinking financial strategy. 

·        How To Apply For Long-Term Care Insurance

By preparing for the potential costs and burdens of aging, you can better ensure a secure, stress-free, and comfortable retirement. After all, planning for long-term care isn't only about preparing for potential health declines—it's also about safeguarding your quality of life and financial stability in your later years.

Act Sooner Than Later

With Long-Term Care Insurance, because of the cost of the premiums and underwriting, the sooner you plan, the better. Premiums are based on your age when you obtain coverage, your health, your family history, and the total amount of benefits within the policy. The best time to get coverage is in your 40s or 50s. Be sure to speak with a specialist representing all the major insurance companies offering this type of coverage.

Professional Help is Worth It

Using a Long-Term Care Insurance specialist does not cost you anything. Still, you need to find the right professional to help match your age, health, and other factors to find the best coverage at the lowest cost. 

Every insurance company has its specific underwriting guidelines and pricing. An LTC Insurance specialist will shop the top companies and review their underwriting guidelines to provide you with accurate quotes and recommendations for coverage levels. 


LTC NEWS - A Wealth of Information

You are already on LTC NEWS! Welcome. In addition to our many articles about aging, caregiving, health, lifestyle, long-term care, and retirement planning, we have many tools and resources to help educate yourself on long-term care planning.

Aging Parents Deserve Quality Care

Should your parents show signs of deteriorating health, they are entitled to top-notch care. If they have the foresight to secure a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, consider it a fortunate circumstance. Make it a point not to postpone utilizing the policy's benefits.

LTC NEWS has combined efforts with Amada Senior Care, a leading in-home health care agency with locations throughout the country, to help you process a claim from any LTC Insurance policy.

There is no cost or obligation for this service - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim.

If they don't have an LTC policy, Amada can still help develop a plan of care and provide you with many affordable in-home care options. Learn more now - Find Quality In-Home Care.

LTC NEWS Can Benefit Your Website and Business

LTC NEWS offers a variety of marketing and advertising options to help you reach your target audience. Our sponsored content articles are a highly effective way to drive traffic to your website, increase brand awareness, and build relationships with potential customers.

Benefits of Sponsored Content on LTC NEWS

  • Drives website traffic: Sponsored content articles are placed on LTC NEWS's homepage and in other high-traffic areas of the website, ensuring that your message is seen by a large audience.
  • Increases brand awareness: Sponsored content articles are written in a way that educates and engages readers, helping to position your brand as a thought leader in your industry.
  • Connects with target audience: LTC NEWS's audience is made up of people who are interested in long-term care, making it a great way to reach potential customers who are already considering your products or services.
  • Improves SEO: Sponsored content articles are written in a way that is optimized for search engines, helping to improve your website's ranking in search results.

In summary, sponsored content on LTC NEWS is a powerful marketing tool that can help you boost website traffic, SEO, brand recognition, and audience engagement.

Learn more about how LTC NEWS can help market your business, drive traffic, and improve SEO - Advertise With Us | LTC News.


LTC NEWS: Share Your News with Us

LTC NEWS is a leading website for news and information about aging, caregiving, health, lifestyle, long-term care, and retirement planning. We are always looking for new stories to share with our readers. 

If your group, organization, business, or political committee has news to share, we encourage you to submit a press release to us.

You can submit your press release - 

LTC News Trusted & Verified

Work With a Trusted Specialist

Get Accurate Long-Term Care Insurance Quotes

  • Has substantial experience in Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Strong understanding of underwriting, policy design, and claims experience
  • Represents all or most of all the leading insurance companies
man and woman sitting at desk
  • Latest

  • Oldest

  • Homecare

  • Health

  • Government

  • Care Facilities

  • Pets

  • People

  • Lifestyle

  • Insurance

No Results - Try refining your search

Step 1 of 4

Find a Specialist

Get Started Today

Trusted & Verified Specialists

Work with a trusted Long-Term Care Insurance Specialist Today

  • Has substantial experience in Long-Term Care Insurance
  • A strong understanding of underwriting, policy design, and claims experience
  • Represents all or most of all the leading insurance companies

LTC News Trusted & Verified

Compare Insurers