Artists share a personal and powerful version of themselves every time they sing, perform, paint, write or express their creativity. Tony Bennett, the legendary Grammy winner, has shared his voice and personality with the world for decades. In February 2021, Bennett and his family announced that he had Alzheimer’s. They kept the secret a secret for four years but decided to go public with their diagnosis in 2021.
On her 95th birthday, Lady Gaga announced a collaboration album with the singer, cementing their longstanding musical relationship. The two have produced albums, won Grammy Awards, and performed together on world-famous stages. This week, Bennett became the second oldest artist to be nominated for a Grammy, along with Gaga, for “Love for Sale.” When asked by Bennett’s son if they should share his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Gaga said, “…it’s just another gift you can give to the world.”
It shouldn’t be radical to say that people with dementia have so much to give to the world, but Gaga’s statement struck me as radical. The honesty and transparency of Bennett and his family about his illness mean more people can be educated about dementia. Compassion & Choices’ mission is to ensure people can walk the life path they want based on their values. Sometimes a conversation, or in Bennett’s case, an album and concerts can be a gift to our loved ones, our fans, our fans, and our community.
I hope Bennett’s resilience shows people of all ages that families and individuals can prepare for a diagnosis of dementia. Preparing can alleviate some of the fear and stigma associated with the condition.
Compassion & Choices offers the following free tools for everyone. Tony Bennett and his family can inspire each of us to be open and honest about the end of life, including dementia.