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Emma Heming Willis Speaks on Husband Bruce Willis' FTD Condition on 'Today' Show

Published September 27, 2023
9 months ago

Emma Heming Willis, wife of renowned actor Bruce Willis, appeared on the 'Today' show on Monday to discuss her husband's battle with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Joined by Susan Dickinson, head of the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD), the pair sought to spread awareness during World FTD Week.

Frontotemporal dementia represents a group of brain disorders gravely affecting the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. The progressive disease that Bruce was diagnosed with earlier this year can cause speech, emotional, motor skills, and personality changes. As Dickinson noted, understanding changes can be the first thing to go for FTD patients, given the disease's grip on the frontal lobe, which controls self-insight.

Emma Heming Willis admits uncertainty about whether Bruce fully comprehends his condition, citing the vast hardships experienced by those affected by FTD. She highlighted the extreme distress not only for the diagnosed but their families, firmly insisting on the characterization of dementia as a 'family disease.'

Bruce Willis was initially diagnosed with aphasia - a language disorder - in March 2022, leading to his retirement from acting. The family announced his worsening condition in February 2023, updating his diagnosis to frontotemporal dementia. FTD, frequently mistaken for conditions like Alzheimer's, bipolar disease, or Parkinson's due to lack of awareness, is the leading form of dementia in people under 60.

Emma candidly shared the dual nature of receiving the diagnosis, a 'blessing and a curse.' While hoping for acceptance of their new reality, the pain remains fresh. She rejects the label "caretaker" and prefers "care-partner," emphasizing the importance of self-care in the caregiving process.

The Willis family advocates for continued joy, despite the harshness of their circumstances. This stoic approach helps them face the many challenges posed by Bruce's condition.

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