In March 2022, 67-year-old actor, Bruce Willis, was diagnosed with aphasia and announced that he would retire from acting. Unfortunately, his condition has progressed into frontotemporal dementia.
His family posted a statement on the Association of Frontotemporal Degeneration’s website:
“Since we announced Bruce’s diagnosis of aphasia in spring 2022, Bruce’s condition has progressed and we now have a more specific diagnosis: frontotemporal dementia (known as FTD). Unfortunately, challenges with communication are just one symptom of the disease Bruce faces. While this is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis.”
Frontotemporal dementia is often diagnosed at younger ages than other forms of dementia. It’s characterised by personality changes, speech difficulty, and motor impairment. It is the cause of 10-20% of all dementia diagnoses, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Read the Willis Family Statement in full below:
“As a family, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for the outpouring of love and compassion for Bruce over the past ten months. Your generosity of spirit has been overwhelming, and we are tremendously grateful for it. For your kindness, and because we know you love Bruce as much as we do, we wanted to give you an update.
“Since we announced Bruce’s diagnosis of aphasia in spring 2022, Bruce’s condition has progressed and we now have a more specific diagnosis: frontotemporal dementia (known as FTD). Unfortunately, challenges with communication are just one symptom of the disease Bruce faces. While this is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis.
“FTD is a cruel disease that many of us have never heard of and can strike anyone. For people under 60, FTD is the most common form of dementia, and because getting the diagnosis can take years, FTD is likely much more prevalent than we know. Today there are no treatments for the disease, a reality that we hope can change in the years ahead. As Bruce’s condition advances, we hope that any media attention can be focused on shining a light on this disease that needs far more awareness and research.
“Bruce always believed in using his voice in the world to help others, and to raise awareness about important issues both publicly and privately. We know in our hearts that – if he could today — he would want to respond by bringing global attention and a connectedness with those who are also dealing with this debilitating disease and how it impacts so many individuals and their families.
“Ours is just one family with a loved one who suffers from FTD, and we encourage others facing it to seek out the wealth of information and support available through AFTD (@theaftd, theaftd.org). And for those of you who have been fortunate enough to not have any personal experience with FTD, we hope that you will take the time to learn about it, and support AFTD’s mission in whatever way you can.
“Bruce has always found joy in life – and has helped everyone he knows to do the same. It has meant the world to see that sense of care echoed back to him and to all of us. We have been so moved by the love you have all shared for our dear husband, father, and friend during this difficult time. Your continued compassion, understanding, and respect will enable us to help Bruce live as full a life as possible.”
– Emma, Demi, Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, Mabel, and Evelyn