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Bruce Willis diagnosed with dementia, family says

By Sarah May
|
February 17, 2023

Sad news emerged from the world of show business Thursday when it was revealed that legendary Die Hard actor Bruce Willis, 67, has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, as Variety reports.

The tragic development comes nearly a year after Willis' family announced that he was suffering from aphasia – described as a language disorder caused by damage to the brain – and would be stepping back from the acting profession.

Dementia diagnosis revealed

The news that Willis' affliction has now worsened to a form of dementia was made public in a statement issued by his family.

The regrettable message began with an expression of gratitude “for the incredible outpouring of love, support and wonderful stories we have all received since sharing Bruce's original diagnosis.”

“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),” the family went on.

The statement continued, “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.”

Condition explained

According to information from the Mayo Clinic, frontotemporal dementia is a term used to describe a group of disorders impacting the brain's frontal and temporal lobes, areas most typically associated with language, personality, and behavior.

When this type of dementia is present, parts of the aforementioned lobes begin to shrink, and the symptoms that result can include drastic personality changes, emotional indifference, impulsivity, and difficulty expressing oneself through language, and eventually, an inability to function independently.

At present, there is no cure or even a specific treatment regimen for those suffering from frontotemporal dementia, though antidepressants, antipsychotics, speech therapy, and other lifestyle adjustments are often used to manage symptoms.

The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration indicates that by the time symptoms of the condition become apparent, patients live an average of another seven to 13 years, as the Los Angeles Times noted.

Stars send support

Given Willis' prolific career that has spanned several decades, it is not surprising that Hollywood stars stepped forward to show their support for their colleague as soon as his diagnosis became known, as CBS News notes.

Former California first lady and high-profile media figure in her own right, Maria Shriver, took to Twitter to say, “My heart goes out to Bruce Willis and his family, & also my gratitude for shining a much-needed light on this disease.”

Noted film actor Carl Weathers also offered his best wishes to the family while also paying tribute to some of Willis' most recognizable roles.

“Yours truly sends love and positivity to Bruce and his family. His talent has been enjoyed 'round the world'! DIE HARD; SIXTH SENSE; PULP FICTION! Love his work,” Weathers declared.

Family pledges devotion

As devastating as Willis' diagnosis is, it became clear in the aftermath of his family's announcement that they remain committed to helping their husband, father, and friend live his remaining years surrounded by the love and support that continues to pour in, as Fox News explained.

Willis' daughter Scout took to social media after the family's statement went public, saying, “Feeling emotionally tired and a bit overwhelmed, yet also very in awe of the love so many people have for my papa.”

Scout's sister Tallulah replied to Scout's post, saying, “Second this, Scouter. Feeling the abundant love for our guy and our family.”

Another of the actor's daughters, Rumer Willis, joined in, saying, “I third this Scouter and [Tallulah] feeling so deeply grateful and in awe of the love for us and our sweet Daddio,” emphasizing the unwavering devotion the screen stalwart has clearly engendered among those closest to him as well as from his millions of fans across the globe.