(CNN) — Tony Bennett and his family are opening up about the singer being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
The legendary singer, who is 94, began showing symptoms of the disease in 2015, according to a feature report by AARP magazine, who he thanked on Twitter for letting him tell his story.
“Life is a gift — even with Alzheimer’s.Thank you to [his wife] Susan and my family for their support, and @AARP The Magazine for telling my story,” he wrote.
Bennett was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016, but the public had been unaware of his declining health because he kept on performing.
At the encouragement of his team of neurologists, Bennett has continued to sing and play music at home to help stimulate his brain in positive ways. He’s also keeping a special diet and exercising regularly with a trainer.
Bennett’s wife, Susan, and his eldest son, Danny, also spoke to the magazine, describing how Bennett could perform even while confused.
“Both Susan and Danny said that backstage, Tony could seem utterly mystified about his whereabouts. But the moment he heard the announcer’s voice boom ‘Ladies and gentlemen — Tony Bennett!’ he would transform himself into performance mode, stride out into the spotlight, smiling and acknowledging the audience’s applause,” the piece described.
And he will still release music; a follow-up to 2014’s “Cheek to Cheek,” his collaboration with Lady Gaga, will be released this spring. The two recorded the latest songs between 2018 and early 2020, and according to the publication, Lady Gaga knew about his diagnosis when their recording sessions were filmed as part of a documentary.
“The pain and sadness in Gaga’s face is clear at such moments — but never more so than in an extraordinarily moving sequence in which Tony (a man she calls ‘an incredible mentor, and friend, and father figure’) sings a solo passage of a love song. Gaga looks on, from behind her mic, her smile breaking into a quiver, her eyes brimming, before she puts her hands over her face and sobs.”
Bennett’s last public performance was March 11, 2020, at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, New Jersey.
(Copyright (c) 2020 CNN. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)