Bruce Willis' Family Issues Statement Following An Updated Dementia Diagnosis For The Beloved Actor

Bruce Willis in Detective Knight: Independence
(Image credit: Lionsgate)

Bruce Willis entertained audiences for over 40 years, with his best movies including box office hits like Die Hard, The Sixth Sense, The Fifth Element, Unbreakable and more. Sadly, in March 2022, Willis was forced to retire from his successful movie career due to his initial diagnosis of aphasia, which is a language disorder that affects your ability to communicate and comprehend language. However, it's been revealed that there's going on with the actor’s health, as his family issued a statement that reveals the retired actor’s updated dementia diagnosis.

It was recently discovered by Bruce Willis' family that enduring the loss of communication would only be the start of his tragic health condition. A statement issued by the 67-year-old’s family that was posted on AFTD revealed that Willis' prognosis has worsened to frontotemporal dementia. In their words:

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. FTD is a cruel disease that many of us have never heard of and can strike anyone. For people under 60, FTD is the most common form of dementia, and because getting the diagnosis can take years, FTD is likely much more prevalent than we know. Today there are no treatments for the disease, a reality that we hope can change in the years ahead. 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.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, frontotemporal dementia is when nerve cell loss in either the brain’s frontal lobes or its temporal lobes “cause deterioration in behavior, personality, and/or difficulty with producing or comprehending language.” The Mayo Clinic says these behavioral changes can affect judgment, empathy, how you are socially, compulsivity, change in eating habits and more. Speech and language problems also occur, like lacking the understanding of written or verbal language, trouble naming things, not knowing word meanings, mistakes in sentence reconstruction, the list goes on. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease, but there are antidepressants and antipsychotics to help treat behavioral problems.

This new diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia may be shattering to discover, but with a full diagnosis and understanding of Bruce Willis’ new condition, his family will be able to watch out for any symptoms he exhibits. His wife, Emma Heming Willis, continued to express in her statement the importance for all of us to take the time to learn about this rare disease to grasp a better understanding of what the Red actor is going through.

Ours is just one family with a loved one who suffers from FTD, and we encourage others facing it to seek out the wealth of information and support available through AFTD (@theaftd, And for those of you who have been fortunate enough to not have any personal experience with FTD, we hope that you will take the time to learn about it, and support AFTD’s mission in whatever way you can. Bruce has always found joy in life – and has helped everyone he knows to do the same. 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.

Bruce Willis’s deteriorating health has had a profound effect on his family. His wife has spoken about the struggles of taking care of her family and finding a balance between taking care of others, as well as herself. Months after Willis’ diagnosis was announced, Heming Willis declared that she wants to try to be her best self for the people she loves and her own well-being. Despite the hardships she’s gone through, she’s also made sure to express the happy times she’s recently had with her husband, like the loving glance the two of them shared in new photos taken days after his retirement. There was also the time she shared a sweet Father’s Day photo of Willis at the bottom of a family dogpile. This proves in the wake of tragedy, there is plenty of room for love and compassion.

This Golden Globe winner and his family have a long road ahead, but the love they have for each other is strong and will shine through it all. If you’d like to see Willis’ final movie, Assassins, it has a 2023 movie release in select theaters and video on demand on March 31st.   

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.