Bruce Willis' rare disease has no cure: Here's what we know about frontotemporal dementia

Bruce Willis' family has revealed that he has frontotemporal dementia. What exactly is it?

Bruce Willis' rare disease, frontotemporal dementia, explained
© VCG / Getty Images
Bruce Willis' rare disease, frontotemporal dementia, explained

Few actors can boast of a career as full as Bruce Willis. A key figure in the cinema of the 90s, he has distinguished himself in cult films such as Pulp Fiction, 12 Monkeys, and The Fifth Element, to name but a few.

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A year ago, the actor announced his retirement after learning that he was suffering from aphasia. Unfortunately, Willis' health condition has suddenly deteriorated, and the actor is suffering from frontotemporal dementia (FTD), according to his family.

Demi Moore's heartbreaking announcement

The heartbreaking announcement was made by Willis' ex-wife Demi Moore on Instagram. Via a post, the actress stated:

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).

While Willis' family is devastated by the announcement, being able to put a name to the actor's disorder is a 'relief' to them. In a statement, his loved ones took advantage of this announcement to inform the general public about this little known disease.

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What is frontotemporal dementia?

Mostly hereditary, FTD is a neurodegenerative disease that leads to a decline in cognitive functions and mainly affects people between 45 and 65 years of age. Related to Alzheimer's disease, it is progressive, incurable, and remains relatively rare: according to the Fédération de la recherche sur le cerveau (FRC), its prevalence is 10 to 15 cases per 100,000. The FRC states:

The frontotemporal area affected involves language, behavior, abstract thinking, and the ability to move. As a result, people with FTD may have memory problems, often episodic, changes in behavior, or difficulty speaking or moving.

Currently, we lack information about FTD and there is no treatment that effectively combats the disease. Unfortunately, this means that the chance of seeing Willis in front of a camera again is very slim, but as his family states:

Your continued compassion, understanding, and respect will enable us to help Bruce live as full a life as possible.

Bruce Willis seen for the first time since diagnosis

Bruce Willis was seen for the first time in the United States since his family announced in February that he had frontotemporal dementia (FTD). This Thursday, March 2, the 67-year-old actor made an appearance on the streets of Santa Monica in Los Angeles. According to the Daily Mail, he wore a blue sweater, and black jogging pants and was having coffee with two friends.

In the pictures, Bruce Willis looks tired. He has not been seen in public since the end of January. While he has more and more difficulty communicating, the actor is fighting every day against the disease. The media photos weren't well received by fans. 'Aren't you ashamed?', 'Leave him alone' can be read among the comments on Twitter.

This article has been translated from Gentside FRand Ohmymag FR.

Sources used:

- AFTD: 'A Statement from the Willis Family'

- FRC: 'La dégénérescence fronto-temporale (DFT)'

- Daily Mail: 'Frail Bruce Willis, 67, is seen for the first time since his dementia diagnosis was revealed, as retired actor steps out in Santa Monica'

Bruce Willis: Legendary actor makes a rare appearance alongside his family since his retirement Bruce Willis: Legendary actor makes a rare appearance alongside his family since his retirement