Movie star Bruce Willis diagnosed with dementia

Bruce Willis, photo by Broadimage/Shutterstock.

American movie star Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. The disease can cause a person to experience a variety of cognitive, physical, and emotional symptoms. In a statement released on social media yesterday, Willis’ family said it is a “relief to finally have a clear diagnosis.”

Willis was first diagnosed with aphasia, a language disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate, in the spring of 2021. However, the 67 year old’s condition has since worsened, leading to the more specific diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia.

Frontotemporal dementia is the most common form of dementia in people under the age of 60, and there is currently no cure for the disease. It is often misdiagnosed as various psychiatric disorders. Willis’ family expressed their hope that media attention will raise awareness of the actor’s condition, and help to fund research to find a cure for this debilitating disease.

Willis rose to fame in the 1980s and 1990s after starring in blockbuster films such as Die Hard, The Sixth Sense, Armageddon, and Pulp Fiction. He has also been nominated for five Golden Globes, winning one for his work on the TV series Moonlighting, and three Emmys, of which he won two. Despite his successful career, Willis’ family announced last year that he would be retiring from acting due to his diagnosis of aphasia, which was impacting his cognitive abilities.

The family’s statement on social media was signed by several members of Willis’ family, including his wife Emma Heming, with whom he has two daughters, and his former wife Demi Moore and their three daughters, BBC reported. The statement expressed the family’s “deepest gratitude for the incredible outpouring of love,” and Bruce’s commitment to using his voice to help others.

In response to the news, fans, fellow actors, and advocates for brain disorder patient care and research have expressed their support for Willis and his family. US journalist Maria Shriver, a prominent campaigner for brain disorder patient care and research, tweeted her gratitude for shining a much-needed light on this disease. US actor Aaron Paul, who starred in the TV crime drama Breaking Bad, called Willis “such a damn legend,” while US singer and actress Queen Latifah expressed her love and support for the actor and his family.

According to the UK NHS website, frontotemporal dementia is an “uncommon” form of the disease that causes the sufferer problems with behaviour and language. The disease can affect a person’s ability to communicate and cause changes in their personality, social behaviour, and emotional responses. Physical symptoms of frontotemporal dementia can include muscle weakness, slow or stiff movements, and loss of bladder or bowel control, although these symptoms tend to occur later in the disease’s progression.

Willis’s family’s announcement brings greater attention to a disease that affects millions of people worldwide. While there is no cure for frontotemporal dementia, researchers are working to develop new treatments and improve our understanding of the disease. Willis’s diagnosis underscores the importance of continued research and support for individuals and families affected by this debilitating disease.

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.