Bruce Willis stricken with rare and ‘cruel’ form of dementia

Bruce Willis is suffering a rare and cruel form of dementia that can affect movement and behaviour. Picture: Reuters

Bruce Willis is suffering a rare and cruel form of dementia that can affect movement and behaviour. Picture: Reuters

Published Feb 17, 2023


Bruce Willis is suffering a rare and “cruel” form of dementia that can affect movement and behaviour.

The ‘Die Hard’ actor, 67, retired from acting last year, after he was diagnosed with the brain disorder, aphasia, and his family have revealed he has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia after his condition “progressed”.

A joint statement from his five children, wife Emma Heming, 44, and ex-wife Demi Moore, 60, posted on The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration’s website on Thursday, said: “Our family wanted to start by expressing our deepest gratitude for the incredible outpouring of love, support and wonderful stories we have all received since sharing Willis’s original diagnosis.

“In the spirit of that, we wanted to give you an update about our beloved husband, father and friend since we now have a deeper understanding of what he is experiencing.

“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.

“Bruce always believed in using his voice in the world to help others, and to raise awareness about important issues both publicly and privately.

“We know in our hearts that – if he could today – he would want to respond by bringing global attention and a connectedness with those who are also dealing with this debilitating disease and how it impacts so many individuals and their families.

“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.

The statement was signed off by Heming, Moore, and Willis’s daughters Rumer, 34, Scout, 31, Tallulah, 29 – who Willis’s had with Demi – and his girls Mabel, 10, and Evelyn, 8, who he had with Emma.

The actor’s rare condition – which consists of less than 5% of all dementia cases – affects the lobes of the brain behind the forehead, which deal with behaviour, problem-solving, planning and emotions.

Symptoms can include personality changes, such as appearing rude, uninterested and unsympathetic, along with repeated, compulsive movements, hoarding and obsessions as well as craving unhealthy food.