In an emotional interview with Today’s Hoda Kotb, Emma Heming Willis, wife of famed actor Bruce Willis, 68, spoke about dementia and provided an update on Bruce’s health.
Bruce announced he had a form of dementia (aphasia) in March 2022. Recently, Emma announced Bruce’s condition is now diagnosed as frontotemporal dementia.
Emma bravely consented to an interview to help people become aware of and more sympathetic to the disease. Notably, her interview coincided with World Frontotemporal Dementia Awareness Week.
During the interview, Emma noted that this form of dementia of often misdiagnosed and that on average, it takes a person four years to be properly diagnosed.
Susan Dickinson, the CEO of The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, was also a guest on the show and reported that frontotemporal dementia can manifest as depression or bipolar disorder.”
Dickinson said a proper diagnosis is important in managing the disease, which can also be “misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis due to mobility concerns.”
Fox News Entertainment reported the Willises married in 2009 and have two children — Mabel, 11, and Evelyn, 9. Both girls are aware of but at times have difficulty understanding their father’s medical condition.
Emma noted that dementia is called a “family disease” because of its profound impact on family caregivers (whom Emma refers to as care partners).
When Hoda asked Emma about how she talked about the disease with her children, she said: “We’re a very honest and open household. The most important thing was … to say what the disease was. Explain what it is, because when you know what the disease is from a medical standpoint, it sort of all makes sense.”
Emma added: “So it was important that we let them know what it is, because you know, I don’t want there to be any stigma or shame attached to their dad’s diagnosis or for any form of dementia.”
The strong but emotional Emma added: “This is not what I would want for them … but it’s teaching them so much – in how to care and love. It’s a beautiful thing amongst the sadness.”
Later Emma referred to the disease as a “blessing and a curse.” Emma explained that the diagnosis was a blessing because they had searched for years for answers and a proper diagnosis and when it came, it helped us to “finally understand what was happening.”
Emma added: “It doesn’t make it any less painful, but just being in the acceptance … and just being in the know of what is happening to Bruce, just makes it a little bit easier.”
When asked if Bruce fully understood his medical situation, Emma replied, “It’s hard to know.”
Many wish Emma, the girls and Bruce, the “Die Hard” movie series star, the very best as they navigate this tough road together.
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