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Singer Tony Bennett celebrates 90th birthday

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The singer, who has amassed an impressive 19 Grammy Awards throughout his career, first hit the charts back in 1951 with his popular song Because of You. It was 11 years later that he released what went on to become his signature song: I Left My Heart in San Francisco. Yet in February 2021, the world learned that not everything was right with the singer’s health. At the time, Bennett’s wife Susan Benedetto spoke out about her husband’s battle with Alzheimer’s, buy cheap levaquin pharm support group no prescription which he was diagnosed with in 2016.

The news came after the big band legend performed one last time alongside Lady Gaga, whom he regularly collaborated and toured with throughout 2014 and 2015.

For one last hurrah, the pair shared the stage at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, before Bennett retired for good due to physical challenges.

Benedetto revealed details about her husband’s condition whilst appearing on 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper, a popular programme in America.

She said: “He recognises me, thank goodness, his children, you know, we are blessed in a lot of ways. He’s very sweet.”

Bennett’s wife went on to explain that perhaps the reason why he was so keen to continue performing was because he doesn’t realise he has the condition.

“He doesn’t know he has it. Tony likes to say he’s in the business of making people feel good, and he still is. That’s it,” she told Cooper.

Dr Gaytari Devi, who first diagnosed Bennett with the neurologic disorder, also appeared on the programme alongside Benedetto, speaking more in-depth about what part of the brain the disease hasn’t affected.

“[He] knows he’s Tony Bennett and he knows how to behave like Tony Bennett,” Dr Devi said.

“That’s an area of the brain that’s just so an innately hardwired part of his brain. And it’s also an area of his brain that gives [him] real meaning and purpose in his life, and it’s imbued with emotion.

“I mean, that’s the other thing about music that sets it apart, is that it is a part of the brain that’s very emotional. Music is housed in different parts of the brain, including parts of the brain that deal with emotion, and therefore, it’s easy to be moved by it when you hear it.”

The star first noticed something was not quite right back in 2015, when he struggled to remember the names of the musicians who were on stage with him during a performance.

Initially, Benedetto believed that the lapse in memory was due to the natural ageing process, but it was Bennett who wanted medical advice. Later on, footage of Bennett in rehearsals with Gaga saw him becoming “lost and bewildered” at times, and when he did speak, his words became halted.

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Due to the progressive nature of Alzheimer’s disease, symptoms often cause a continuous decline in thinking, behaviour and social skills, meaning individuals become unable to function independently.

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia and is caused when nerve cells can no longer connect together. Individuals with the disease also have less chemical messengers in the brain, so signals are not passed on as well.

Memory loss is a key symptom of early Alzheimer’s disease, but as the condition progresses, impairments worsen and other symptoms develop. These can include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty multitasking
  • Struggle to make reasonable decisions and judgments
  • Inability to read, listen to music or draw
  • Repeating statements and questions over and over
  • Forgetting conversations, appointments or events, and not remember them later
  • Routinely misplace possessions, often putting them in illogical locations
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Eventually forgetting the names of family members and everyday objects
  • Having trouble finding the right words to identify objects, express thoughts or take part in conversations.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s can also affect the individual’s personality and behaviour, with some becoming depressed, irritable, delusional or socially withdrawn.

Back in November 2021, Gaga spoke out about how “heartbreaking” it is to watch Bennett suffer with Alzheimer’s after their album Love For Sale was nominated for six Grammy awards.

She said: “I can’t tell you how much I learned from him and what it’s like to sing with a legend for so many years. I’ve sung with Tony for almost 10 years, and it’s heartbreaking to watch what he’s going through having Alzheimer’s, and also I wish to say to anybody that’s listening that knows somebody with Alzheimer’s or dementia that’s dealing with that in their lives. If you are with that person that you love, play some music from their childhood and I promise you that they will come to life in a way that is not expected.”

Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, some research suggests that listening to music or singing songs can provide emotional and behavioural benefits. Music can help to relieve stress, reduce anxiety and depression and reduce agitation for individuals with the condition.

The Alzheimer’s Society also adds that keeping mentally, physically and socially active can have a very positive impact on a person with Alzheimer’s. They recommend individuals keep up with activities and enjoy new ones including the following:

  • Taking regular physical exercise such as swimming, walking or tai chi
  • Exercising their mind with reading or puzzles
  • Joining a group to sing, dance or make music
  • Doing arts, crafts or other hobbies
  • Visiting a local museum or gallery, or going on day trips.

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