- In February 2023, it was reported that Hollywood actor Bruce Willis has dementia.
- The news of Willis’ illness reignited the conversation around dementia awareness.
In 2020, reports accused Bruce Willis of “Die Hard” fame of unprofessionalism on film sets. The accounts stated that he appeared confused and had to be fed lines through an earpiece.
In some cases, the directors and screenwriters reduced his roles and abbreviated his dialogues. His films were also panned hard by critics and he stood the risk of being canceled by Hollywood.
However, in early 2022, Willis’s family announced his diagnosis with aphasia (a communication and language disorder) and consequent retirement from acting. In 2023, his family announced more heart-breaking news, stating that the actor’s aphasia has turned into full-blown frontotemporal dementia.
Does Bruce Willis Have Dementia?
When Bruce Willis was diagnosed with dementia, his family released a statement asking for privacy during this difficult time. It was also stated that, despite his struggle with the illness, he would attempt to bring awareness about this debilitating condition.
The statement read: “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 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.”
Recently, Willis’ wife, Emma Heming Willis, took up the mantle of his advocacy work for dementia awareness. She regularly posts information and dementia care resources and toolboxes online. She also supports charities that care for people with dementia.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is a neurodegenerative disorder marked by a decline in cognitive abilities, such as memory loss, language problems, problem-solving and decision-making difficulties, etc. It is caused by damage to brain cells via aging, brain injury, substance abuse, etc. Some common types of dementia include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Vascular dementia
- Lewy body dementia
- Frontotemporal dementia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
Symptoms Of Dementia
The common signs and symptoms of dementia include:
- Memory loss, especially of recent events
- Problems recognizing familiar people or objects
- Difficulty with language
- Confusion, disorientation, and poor navigational skills
- Impaired judgment and reasoning
- Changes in mood and behavior
- Difficulty with everyday tasks and functioning
- Problems with spatial awareness and motor function
- Hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia
Can Dementia Be Treated?
Dementia is a progressive condition that can eventually lead to a loss of independence and the need for full-time care. While there is no cure for dementia, early diagnosis and intervention can help slow the progression of symptoms and improve the quality of life for both the affected individual and his/her caregivers.
As the public and private discourses around Bruce Willis’ illness testify, the treatment of dementia typically focuses on managing the symptoms and improving temporary health outcomes.
This may involve medications to improve memory and cognitive function, as well as therapies to address behavioral and psychological symptoms. In recent years, innovative in-patient treatment facilities called “dementia villages” have come up to exclusively help people with dementia.