Emma Heming Willis, wife of renowned actor Bruce Willis, opened up about her husband’s battle with frontotemporal dementia in an interview with “Today” show co-anchor Hoda Kotb on Monday. She shed light on the challenges they face and the importance of raising awareness about the disease during World Frontotemporal Dementia Awareness Week.
Emma Heming Willis, 45, spoke about the complex emotions that come with understanding her husband’s condition. She referred to it as both a “blessing and a curse” to finally have clarity about what was happening to Bruce, 68. This diagnosis has allowed her to come to terms with the reality of the situation, although it hasn’t lessened the pain. She emphasized that having knowledge about Bruce’s condition has made it slightly more manageable for her.
Frontotemporal dementia is a devastating disease with no known cure or treatment. According to Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration CEO Susan Dickinson, approximately 20-25% of cases may have a genetic component, but the majority are sporadic, and the exact cause remains unknown.
Bruce Willis was initially diagnosed with aphasia in 2022, a condition that significantly impacts communication, particularly speech. In February, his family announced that his condition had progressed to frontotemporal dementia.
Diagnosing frontotemporal dementia can be challenging due to its varied symptoms, which can mimic other conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s Disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Proper diagnosis can take up to four years due to the subtle yet significant changes in how a person interacts with the world.
Emma Heming Willis also stressed the importance of removing any stigma or shame associated with Bruce Willis’ diagnosis and dementia in general. She highlighted that their household maintains an environment of honesty and openness, ensuring their daughters understand their father’s condition and any potential challenges it may bring. The couple has two daughters together, Mabel Ray (11) and Evelyn Penn (9), and Bruce Willis has three adult daughters with his ex-wife, Demi Moore.
Despite the difficulties they face, Emma Heming Willis expressed admiration for her husband’s resilience and the valuable life lessons he continues to impart. She emphasized the positive impact on their children, who are learning valuable lessons about love, patience, care, and resilience through their experiences with their father’s condition. Amidst the sadness, their family is finding beauty in the lessons learned and the love shared.