How Tony Bennett’s Wife Susan Benedetto’s Background As a Teacher is Helping Her Care for Her Ailing Husband
Singer Tony Bennett revealed today that he has Alzheimer’s disease.
The legendary crooner announced that he has been living with the illness since 2016.
His wife, Susan Benedetto (Bennett’s real name), who has been married to Bennett since 2007 is his primary caregiver and she tells AARP that while it hasn’t been easy by any means, there have been rays of light.
Bennett tweeted about his illness today
The crooner and his family announced the news of his Alzheimer’s diagnosis today via Twitter saying “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.”
AARP noted, “Bennett, first diagnosed in 2016, has so far been spared the disorientation that can prompt patients to wander from home, as well as the episodes of terror, rage or depression that can accompany Alzheimer’s frightening detachment from reality; and, indeed, he might never develop these symptoms. Even his increasingly rare moments of clarity and awareness reveal the depths of his debility.”
Benedetto’s background in education has prepared her to care for her husband
Benedetto worked for many years in arts education. A graduate of Fordham University and of Columbia University’s Teachers College, she eventually launched Creative Artists Management and assisted performers and artists in the navigation of their careers.
She and her husband in 1999 opened in Queens, New York City the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, where Benedetto worked both as a social studies teacher and assistant principal. The pair also in the same year founded Exploring the Arts, a nonprofit serving public high schools in New York City and Los Angeles in the promotion of arts education.
All of this has prepared Benedetto for her most important assignment: caring for her husband in his last years of life and using music as a means to keep him engaged and alive. Part of Bennett’s treatment? Rehearsing twice a week as though he were prepping to perform.
Dr. Gayatri Devi, Bennett’s neurologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, remarked to AARP about the commitment shown from Benedetto to her husband.
“I’ve been humbled by the level of devotion,” she said. “She also expects a lot from him. I think her background as a teacher helps, but she’s also very much in love with him. And he rises to her expectations.”
Benedetto’s hope for Bennett
As Benedetto watches her husband navigate this painful season of his life, she remains firmly by his side. Along with his son Danny, she has been Bennett’s chief caregiver.
She told AARP she naturally doesn’t want to see the last of the great crooners suffer.
“Hopefully he’ll just go to sleep one night and that will be that,” she said. “I’m hoping and praying that he won’t take a turn for the worse that’s really crazy bad.”
Saying “there’s a lot about him that I miss,” Benedetto in particular misses “the old Tony. Because he’s not the old Tony anymore. But when he sings, he’s the old Tony.”