Bruce Willis' condition has progressed to frontotemporal dementia, family says

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The update comes less than a year after Willis’ family announced that he had been diagnosed with aphasia and would be stepping back from acting.

Eleven months after Bruce Willis’ family announced that he had been diagnosed with aphasia and would be stepping back from acting, his condition has progressed and he now has a more specific diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia.

The actor’s family — wife Emma Heming; ex-wife Demi Moore; and children Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, Mabel, and Evelyn — announced the news Thursday and gave thanks for “the outpouring of love and compassion for Bruce” since his initial diagnosis. “Your generosity of spirit has been overwhelming, and we are tremendously grateful for it. For your kindness, and because we know you love Bruce as much as we do, we wanted to give you an update.”

According to the National Institute on Aging, frontotemporal dementia, or FTD, results from damage to neurons in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Symptoms can include “unusual behaviors, emotional problems, trouble communicating, difficulty with work, or difficulty with walking.”

While acknowledging that the diagnosis is “painful,” Willis’ family also expressed “relief to finally have a clear diagnosis.” Spotlighting the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, they noted that FTD is the most common form of dementia for people under 60, and because a diagnosis can take years, it is “likely much more prevalent than we know.” (Willis is 67.)

“Today there are no treatments for the disease, a reality that we hope can change in the years ahead,” Willis’ family added. “As Bruce’s condition advances, we hope that any media attention can be focused on shining a light on this disease that needs far more awareness and research.”

Prior to his retirement, Willis had a storied screen career that spanned four decades. Highlights include his Emmy-winning role on the ABC dramedy Moonlighting and his work in films such as the Die Hard series, Armageddon, The Sixth Sense, The Fifth Element, and Pulp Fiction.

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