In a statement on social media, his family said, “they were relieved to finally have a definite diagnosis.” The 67-year-old man was diagnosed with aphasia last spring, which led to a speech impediment but this progressed and he received a more specific diagnosis. They expressed their “heartfelt thanks for the incredible outpouring of love.” The family further stated that frontotemporal dementia is the most common form of dementia under the age of 60.
Willis became a household name in the 1980s and 90s after starring in blockbuster films such as Die Hard, The Sixth Sense, Armageddon, and Pulp Fiction. He has also been nominated for five Golden Globes – winning one for Moonlighting – and also three Emmys, where he won two. But his family said last year that Willis would give up acting, as his aphasia was affecting his cognitive abilities. The new statement on Thursday said they hoped media attention would raise awareness of the actor’s condition.
Dementia has many causes and manifests in many ways. The term dementia describes the impact of a diseased brain on our memory, language, and thinking abilities. Common causes include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Lewy body dementia. The diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia by Bruce Willis is relatively rare. It is also rare in that it primarily affects middle-aged people, but most other forms are seen in old age. Frontotemporal dementia is thought to be caused by the accumulation of toxic proteins in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain (located behind the forehead and ears), killing brain cells.
According to the UK NHS website, frontotemporal dementia is an “unusual” disease that causes behavioral and language problems in those affected. Symptoms may also include sluggishness or stiffness, loss of urinary and defecation control (which tends to occur later), and muscle weakness.