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Beloved actor Bruce Willis, 67, has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, according to a statement released Thursday by his family.
Frontotemporal dementia typically starts with personality changes, including hyper-aggressive and hyper-sexual behavior, experts say, and then it progresses to memory loss. The disease is caused by atrophy of a person’s frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. There is no cure for the disease.
“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),” the family said. “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,” the statement continued. “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.”
Willis’ family shared a statement last year on social media announcing that he was stepping away from his acting career after he had been diagnosed at the time with aphasia. Aphasia, which typically manifests after a head injury or stroke, can also develop gradually as a result of other degenerative pathologies that impact the brain.
“To Bruce’s amazing supporters, as a family we wanted to share that our beloved Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and has recently been diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting his cognitive abilities,” the post read. “As a result of this and with much consideration Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him.”
“This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support. We are moving through this as a strong family unit, and wanted to bring his fans in because we know how much he means to you, as you do to him,” the message continued.
This story has been updated to include additional information.