Bruce Willis has frontotemporal dementia (FTD), his family confirmed in a statement on Thursday. “For your kindness, and because we know you love Bruce as much as we do, we wanted to give you an update,” the statement said. “Since we announced Bruce’s diagnosis of aphasia in spring 2022, Bruce’s condition has progressed and we now have a specific diagnosis.” (Aphasia is a neurological disorder that impacted Willis’s cognitive abilities.)
“For people under 60, FTD is the most common form of dementia,” the statement, which was published by the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD), continued, “and because getting the diagnosis can take years, FTD is likely much more prevalent than we know.”
The statement—signed by Willis’s five children, ex-wife Demi Moore, and current wife Emma Heming Willis—said the 67-year-old actor is having difficulty communicating, which is one possible symptom of FTD. The condition causes anywhere between 10% to 20% of dementia cases, according to the Mayo Clinic. Here’s what you should know about the spectrum of symptoms, as well as what treatment for FTD typically looks like.
What are the symptoms of frontotemporal dementia?
According to the Alzheimer’s Association (AA), FTD is a group of disorders that cause nerve cell damage in the brain’s frontal lobes (which are behind the forehead) and the temporal lobes (which are behind the ears). This can lead to difficulties in using or understanding written or spoken language, as well as deterioration in a person’s behavior and personality, which can include a lack of judgment, apathy, and compulsions, among other changes. (This is one reason why FTD can sometimes be misdiagnosed as a psychiatric disorder, per the Mayo Clinic.)
Prominent behavioral and personality changes are usually associated with the most common type of FTD, behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia, whereas difficulty speaking, writing, and comprehending language is usually associated with the second most common form, primary progressive aphasia. (The family statement did not specify which form of FTD Willis was diagnosed with.)