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.
Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia, his family says. FTD is a profoundly cruel disease, my beloved father in law Tom suffered from it for years before he died. Sending all my love and prayers to their family pic.twitter.com/IoBuS21Fol
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 16, 2023
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.
Kimberly Williams-Paisley Sends 'Love' to Bruce Willis' Family After Dementia Diagnosis: 'My Mom Had This Too' https://t.co/h9lga9W5Sx
— People (@people) February 16, 2023
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.
Just went thru painful couple years with my father in law with Dementia and Parkinson's disease. In his 60s too, like Bruce. It sucks. It sucks for the person but also for the family. I watched him not know who his daughters and his wife was and it's heartbreaking. ????
— brad lee (@bradasstv) February 17, 2023
Amid Willis’ acting career being cut short for now, some former costars are sharing positive experiences from working with the acclaimed actor.
The news of Bruce Willis’s diagnosis of dementia is sad. I got my first real break as an actor playing his buddy Earl in IN COUNTRY, Norman Jewison’s moving drama about Vietnam veterans, and it was a transformative experience for me.
— Jim Beaver blue check mark (@jumblejim) February 17, 2023
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.
Pouring one out for Bruce Willis, one of the best to ever do it. One of the great blue collar every man heroes. One of the all timers in terms of charisma and instantly being the guy you want to see survive the film. I hope he’s given great care and spends his days in comfort.
— Joseph Cornelius Hallenbeck ❤️???? (@TheThirdNiceGuy) February 17, 2023
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.
I wouldn’t wish frontotemporal dementia or aphasia on anyone, not even my worst enemies.
All I have are my memories, they make me who I am and without them I’d lost.
Sorry to hear about Bruce Willis, maybe something positive will come out of this with such a high profile name?
— David Leavitt ????????????♂️???? (@David_Leavitt) February 16, 2023
Bruce Willis’ latest diagnosis is sooooo sad. Dementia is so sad to witness someone go through. I’ve seen it. The brain is so complex and mysterious — hopefully we can solve that mystery and get some sort of cure soon.
— Nick Carey-Guillory (@NickGuillory) February 17, 2023
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.
Actor Bruce Willis has frontotemporal dementia.
I get pissed off when people politicize dementia, because it takes away from the attention those who really have the disease should be receiving. Remember this when you senselessly tweet that Biden or Trump have dementia when… pic.twitter.com/Yqyd76r1wj
— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) February 16, 2023
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.