Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with FTD, frontotemporal dementia

Last March, Bruce Willis’s family announced that he was dealing with a severe case of aphasia, and that he was stepping away from acting and effectively retiring. There were rumors and reports that his health and mental facilities were declining dramatically in the years prior to the announcement, yet he continued to book film after film, perhaps trying to ensure that his family would be financially comfortable. Back in March, the family did make it seem like aphasia was part of a larger issue, a more significant diagnosis. And now they’re giving Bruce’s fans more information. Bruce has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia.

Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, his wife Emma Heming Willis revealed on Thursday. Heming Willis, 44, shared a photo of her the actor, 67, on Instagram, and said that his condition has worsened since the family first revealed his aphasia diagnosis last year.

“Our family wanted to start by expressing our deepest gratitude for the incredible outpouring of love, support and wonderful stories we have all received since sharing Bruce’s original diagnosis,” Emma wrote. “In the spirit of that, we wanted to give you an update about our beloved husband, father and friend since we now have a deeper understanding of what he is experiencing.”

“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 an all-encompassing term for a group of brain disorders that threatens the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. This means that parts of these lobes atrophy, and the shrinking of these areas can cause speech issues, emotional problems and changes in personality. Other symptoms can include loss of motor skills — problems walking, swallowing or muscle spasms. Symptoms tend to get worse over time. Patients typically begin to notice symptoms between 40 – 65 years of age, but it can affect people who are younger. It is the most common form of dementia for people under 60.

Emma continued, “Bruce always believed in using his voice in the world to help others, and to raise awareness about important issues both publicly and privately,” she said. “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.”

“Bruce has always found joy in life – and has helped everyone he knows to do the same,” she ended. “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.”

[From People]

Many commenters predicted/suggested that this was the underlying issue when the aphasia announcement came out last year, that Bruce is dealing with FTD or some form of progressive dementia. It would explain some of the rumors and reports of his behavior on-set in recent years, although by the looks of his public outings in recent years, he doesn’t appear to be physically struggling at this point. But that will likely happen, and that’s probably why Emma is releasing this information. She wants people to know that Bruce probably won’t be seen out in public much longer.

Here are some photos of Bruce on November 20, 2022 in LA. He was out with a friend.

Photos courtesy of Backgrid, Avalon Red.

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48 Responses to “Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with FTD, frontotemporal dementia”

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  1. Eleonor says:

    They have enough money to take good care if him, which is good, but losing someone to dementia is excruciating.

    • HelloDolly! says:

      I lost my cheerful, talkative dad to ALS. The loss of speech, for example, over just a year was nothing short of awful. I saw people in public (I think teens) make fun of him as he was slurring his speech, and I had to step away to cry. The extended period of loss that comes from these kind of diseases breeds a particular kind of grief, and it took me years to get over it. My best friend’s dad currently has Alzheimer’s (her dad started showing symptoms just a year or two after my dad passed), and she knows I understand the process, so we talk alot.

    • Jan90067 says:

      Any/all forms of dementia are heartbreaking. My sweet, funny, wonderful dad has vascular dementia, w/aphasia, diagnosed @ 2 1/2 yrs ago. He’s declined *rapidly* in the last few mos., even more so the last few weeks. There’re only glimpses of him now. Hard not to cry all the time.

      He’s lucky he has a large family around that love and support him, and that he has the means for all the extra help he will need at some point. This wretched disease takes it toll on all the family members.

      My heart goes out to him and his family/friends 💔

    • Hawaiiangymrat says:

      Had experiences with family member that had a similar diagnosis and known people close to me. Whether you are rich or poor it doesn’t discriminate. Definitely prayers and sympathy and support with the family because this is a diagnosis that no matter who it is you wouldn’t wish it on your enemy. Life is going to change for them very fast and everyone’s going to have to accept he’s not going to be the person he used to be wishing support and strength for all involved with his family.

  2. Abby says:

    I wouldn’t wish this type of diagnosis on anyone. I would feel terrified to know I’d be losing my mind and body this way, with no cure or treatment.

    It warms my heart to see the women in his life band around him the way they have recently. I am sad for them. I hope this time is as sweet as possible.

  3. Brassy Rebel says:

    I’ve never been a fan, but anyone struggling with dementia has my deepest sympathy. Since it’s progressive, we can only hope that he doesn’t suffer too much. And his family certainly has a long, difficult road ahead. Peace to them. 🙏

  4. manda says:

    this is so sad for their family and his kids

    I don’t really know much about what bruce willis is like as a person, but I would say I’m a bit of a fan. I grew up watching moonlighting and die hard, and every now and then his song from a seagram’s wine cooler commercial from the 80s goes through my head. He was good in death becomes her, too

    • PJ says:

      reading your comment, the moonlighting theme song started playing in my head.

    • Chantal says:

      @Manda. I’m also a fan, esp of the first 3 Die Hard movies and loved him in Death Becomes Her. Its one of my favorite movies – Goldie Hawn is awesome!

      I’m sad to hear he is battling this debilitating disease and wish him and his family much strength, love and peace.

  5. K says:

    Very sad and difficult for the family, and he has pretty young daughters. Does anyone else get the impression that Demi and her daughters are really part of Emma’s extended support system? Bruce and Demi were the original “stay friends with the ex,” “conscious decouplers,” ya know.

    • one of the marys says:

      @K. I read somewhere that during the pandemic when quarantine was announced Demi and perhaps her daughters moved in with Emma and Bruce. Or vice versa. I think his clan has been circling the wagons for some time.

      • Zazzoo says:

        I remember that. And yeah it makes a lot of sense now. I really like that their family can pull together like that. Demi went through some hard times and her marriage to Ashton devolved into cliche cheating dude/scorned woman awfulness, but I love that she and the father of her children are still family to each other.

    • CourtneyB says:

      The full message on the website was signed by both Emma and Demi as well as his daughters. I think she’s definitely part of a larger support system. Just like Bruce was when Demi and Ashton split. Whatever their flaws they’ve been excellent at coparenting. I really feel for Demi too because she’s never seemed as happy as she was in those early years with Bruce. I think this is all going to hit her very hard.

  6. OriginalLala says:

    My grandfather passed away in July from dementia. It’s excruciating to watch and horrible to experience. Sending my love and strenght to Bruce and his family for whats ahead

  7. caitlinsmom says:

    This is such sad news for him and his family. I can relate; my mother was diagnosed with dementia about two years ago. It’s scary how fast it can accelerate; and what it does- it takes away everything you love about the person- the more they forget, the more combative and aggressive they become. It’s hard to remember sometimes that the person in front of you is still, somewhere in there, the person that you love, and that they are also scared and bewildered by what is happening to them.

  8. Orangeowl says:

    It is a tough diagnosis, so it’s wonderful he has such a strong support system. My mom has dementia and while it’s distressing to see her memory and cognitive abilities slip away, she still is in many ways her old self. The disease is strange that way. All we can do is support them as much as we can as they experience what must be a bewildering and scary existence much of the time.

  9. Digital Unicorn says:

    My mother passed away a few years ago from sub cortical vascular dementia – it was horrible to watch and its the most evil disease ever. My heart aches for them and for Bruce as at some point he will be unable to understand what it happening to him and that is the hardest part esp as it progresses. Even at the end my mum had moments where she seemed like her old self but they were brief and she wasn’t able to communicate but we could see her in there.

    God bless them all.

    • SusieQ says:

      Dementia is such an awful experience for the patient and the family. And it can leave emotional scars on those left behind. I truly feel for him and his family.

      My dad died from vascular dementia in 2017 at the age of 80. I was just 31. It runs in his family, so he had taken care of multiple family members with the disease. He was so terrified of getting it, and then he lived and died his own worst nightmare. The caregiver became the patient.

    • Jan90067 says:

      Deepest sympathies to you both, DU and SQ. {{{💔❤️💔}}}.

      Seeing the person you love go through this is wrenching. You live for those brief moments when they are *with* you in mind and body.

  10. Serena says:

    My heart goes out to his family, dealing with such a debilitating condition must be so hard and heartbreaking.

  11. Sophie says:

    I totally feel for them all! I wouldn’t wish it for anyone! My grandma had dementia for more than 15 years and it is excruciating. You lose everything, your mind, your body, your speech. In her final years, she wasn’t speaking at all, she wasn’t able to move, she was just there and you know what? If I could, I’d give anything to have her back even for a little while more!

  12. Becks1 says:

    So incredibly sad for Bruce and his family.

  13. AmelieOriginal says:

    It is a relief but also heartbreaking to get that diagnosis. My grandmother had vascular dementia and as a teen I had a front row seat to her struggle with the disease. My uncle has Parkinson’s now and dementia is another symptom as well. I feel especially bad for Bruce’s two young daughters, to have to essentially grow up watching their father waste away. Their mother is pretty much a single mom at this point and a caregiver to 3 people. At least Bruce’s adult daughters got to have him present for their whole childhoods. I know we try to be understanding of large age gap marriages but this is is the kind of thing that can happen when you marry someone twice your age. Emma is only in her forties and didn’t realize the risk of becoming a caregiver so young when she married him. It isn’t fair to anyone. At least she has Bruce’s adult daughters to rely on as well because I can’t imagine what she is going through. Bruce will probably need to be in a home at some point. I wish everyone strength for the difficult times ahead.

  14. Sass says:

    Reading this news yesterday broke my heart. Wishing them all as many great memories as possible before it gets worse.

  15. Ameerah M says:

    My Mother was diagnosed with dementia in 2018. It has been a roller coaster of emotions since. The thing that no one talks about really is the loss of personality. My mother has memory loss but it isn’t advanced yet (she has issues with short term memory at this point and a bit of long term). But the biggest and saddest part for us has been how she isn’t anything like who she was. It’s like invasion of the body snatchers in a way. The old person has been pulled out and someone new and unfamiliar has been poured in. I feel for Bruce and his family and I can’t imagine how hard this must be for his younger children. It’s hard for me and I am in my 40’s

    • Nina says:

      My mom got diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2017,she has progressed quickly. She can’t walk, has no clue who my dad and I are. It is absolutely heartbreaking to see her wither away. This is a heartbreaking disease, I wish you strength because you will need it. I stay strong for my mom but I break when I’m away from her. Just remember the time will come she will not know who you are but please remember that she does know who you are in her heart.

  16. HeyKay says:

    Someone mentioned that the diagnosis and his condition were much worse than originally made public and that his health was the reason that he, Demi, and the kids spent lockdown together.
    A man worth $250-$300M before his health problems.
    As terrible as his condition is for all his loved ones, at least he can be well cared for with private nursing.
    Most of us are the heartbroken family who do it all with little to no relief.

    I hope the tabs and paps don’t start tracking him with their awful ghoulish ways as time goes by.
    The National Enquirer stalked McQueen, Newman, Swayze and many others.

    • wellbetterspringa says:

      I don’t especially like Demi all that much, but you have to admit, that she and Bruce remained constant friends in each other’s lives and raised their daughters together beautifully. That says a lot about both of them. I don’t think Demi ever stopped loving him or he her. I think that he was probably showing early symptoms during the covid lockdown. I’m so glad Bruce has all these lovely women, including his wife, joining together to take care of him and protect him from the media. You will NEVER see a bad picture of him in the future. They wouldn’t allow it to happen. God bless them and Bruce. Dementia is absolutely the worst thing to be diagnosed with. May he spend his last days surrounded by the love of his family and not left to years of being confined to a bed.

  17. MaryContrary says:

    So, so sad. I loved him on Moonlighting way back in the day-I heard the Al Jarreau song yesterday and it took me back. How sad especially for his daughters with Emma, they’re still so young 🙁

  18. It Really Is You, Not Me says:

    My grandmother also had dementia brought on by alcoholism. It’s a fate I wouldn’t work wish on the worst human being on earth. She was basically catatonic at the end. Even before that, she thought that her foot was her baby and that her pitbull was my twin (I laughed at that one because otherwise I would have cried), and that her daughter was just some nice woman who took care of her. It’s very sad fate, especially for someone has lived an intelligent and active life like Bruce Willis. Wishing the least amount of pain for him and his family.

  19. AnneL says:

    I haven’t had to deal with Dementia in my immediate family, which is very lucky I know. My mother does act dotty (she’s 86), repeats herself and forgets things etc, but she’s still more or less herself. I can’t imagine just losing someone you love, having them be present but not the same.

    I’m glad he has a support system. My heart goes out to his wife and kids.

  20. Trish says:

    I feel so bad for Bruce. He seems like a good person and this is just an awful way to go. Thank God he has money and family around him though. Bless them.

  21. Kate says:

    This is awful. My heart goes out to him and his family.

  22. TIFFANY says:

    When Demi and his eldest daughters spent the start of the lockdown with them, yeah, that should have been a bigger clue.

    I know Demi and Bruce are still close but Emma called them up to come stay at the house. Yeah.

  23. Betcha says:

    So sorry to hear that. My friends husband died from that. It’s rapid and utterly heartbreaking.

  24. K8erade says:

    This is just beyond sad. I hope everyone in Bruce’s is able to spend as much time as possible together while they can. It sounds like they all are so that’s good.

  25. Andie says:

    I’ve gotten sinister vibes from him since it came out in some routine court docs that he spent over a million dollars on gifts for Aaron Carter when Aaron was a tween and teenager. His response if I recall right was that he was only acting as a “father figure” to Aaron.

    He came up in the generation of white male blockbuster stars who were accountable to no one or nothing. PR during his heyday was practically iron clad (see John Travolta and Tom Cruise) and controlled tightly via relationships with outlets like People Magazine. Anyway that’s just my 2 cents on him

  26. Julia K says:

    I believe the above photo is not with a male friend. I believe he has round the clock caregivers/ companions, and has had for quite some time. People with aphasia/ dementia do not go out unattended, even if a friend is around. Trips to the men’s room, ordering appropriate food off a menu, close watching to avoid wandering or regulating his contacts to avoid being overwhelmed, anxious and confused, anticipating his needs when he can’t verbally express himself, these are the reasons he needs a caregiver , not to isolate him but make it less stressful for him to continue to safely socialize.

    • EllenOlenska says:

      I’m with you Julia, my very first thought was caregiver…and one well picked to look like a friend.

    • rea says:

      Exactly Julia, the message send out via PR is vague and it makes it sound like he will not be able to partake in recreational activities or things he enjoys but will be isolated. I hope he can continue to enjoy what he likes doing for as long as he can with the support of his family and he is not isolated.

  27. Sandra says:

    I really admire how the family has come together and dealt with everything. Particularly Demi. She’s been through a lot in recent years (Ashton!) and gotten some bad press but I’ve always admired her resilience and determination.

  28. Eggbert says:

    Feeling so sad for Bruce and his family, but I’m very grateful that they’re sharing vs feeling ashamed staying silent. My mother had Alzheimer’s at a young age, 58, so I know it can be a lonely nightmare it can be but when others have awareness of the disease it does help the feeling of isolation.

  29. Normades says:

    They’ve all known this for a while and told us so. He worked non stop until he couldn’t. He has a wonderful family unit that supported him and will continue to support him.

    • Borgqueen says:

      I think his last 20 films were produced/directed by Randall Emmett (Lala from VPR’s gross ex). You can see in those last films he was given one liners fed thru an ear mike. I was upset that Randall preyed on Willis but maybe Willis wanted to work as much as possible until he couldnt. So sad.