How Actor Bruce Willis’ Dementia Diagnosis Raises Awareness Surrounding the Illness

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Emmy award winning actor Bruce Willis’ family announced his frontotemporal dementia diagnosis today. The 67 year old was previously diagnosed with aphasia in spring 2022. Aphasia affects the ability to express or comprehend written and spoken language. The accelerated diagnosis has caused Willis to take a step back from his acting career. The last film he worked on, Assassin, will be released next month.

Willis’ diagnosis has already connected with countless people online who have also had loved ones succumb to the disease. Other celebrities are also sharing their experiences with caring for loved ones with dementia.

Fans of the actor were incredibly sympathetic to what his family must be feeling at this time, especially his daughter Rumer Willis, who is currently expecting her first child.

Amid Willis’ acting career being cut short for now, some former costars are sharing positive experiences from working with the acclaimed actor.

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Others referenced Willis’ humble beginnings as an important part in the roles he’s played over the years, and how well he portrayed several different communities.

Through the sadness that the diagnosis has caused for Willis’ family, friends, and fans alike, some point out that such a high profile case of dementia might at least serve as a positive push towards more research on the condition.

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Frontotemporal dementia refers to a group of degenerative disorders that affect either the frontal lobe in the brain (near the forehead) or the temporal lobes (near the ears). The progressive nerve cell loss that it causes leads to a decreased ability to communicate, and personality changes. There are several different types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, Vascular, Lewy body, Huntington’s, and mixed dementia. Contrary to stereotypes, not all types of dementia immediately attack memory functions.

Some took to Twitter to remind the public of the severity of the diagnosis, and to not make light of it when referring to anyone who experiences memory loss.

There is currently no cure for any form of dementia, but there has been progress on the development of several medications that assist in the management of symptoms. Most recently, the FDA approved Aduhelm, a medication for Alzheimer’s that is set to be available to the public this year. Outside of medicine, some recommend other forms of therapy, including music, art, and pet therapy to help maintain cognitive functions amid the degenerating nerves in the brain.

Willis’ family members, including ex-wife Demi Moore and their three daughters, and current wife Emma Heming-Willis, have communicated the need for awareness surrounding the illness. In their shared statement, his family wrote, “Bruce always believed in using his voice in the world to help others, and to raise awareness about important issues both publicly and privately.”

The full statement can be found here.

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