In a heartfelt and exclusive interview with TODAY co-anchor Hoda Kotb, Emma Heming Willis, the wife of action star Bruce Willis, shared her journey as a caregiver following Bruce’s recent diagnosis of dementia. The interview marked the beginning of World Frontotemporal Dementia Awareness Week, in which Heming Willis joined forces with Susan Dickinson, CEO of the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, to raise awareness about this condition.
Bruce Willis’ family revealed earlier this year that he had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, a condition that significantly impacts language processing, communication abilities, and executive functioning skills. This diagnosis followed a previous announcement in March 2022, where the family disclosed that Bruce had aphasia, which affected his ability to understand and communicate effectively.
During the interview, Emma Heming Willis discussed the challenges of dealing with dementia, emphasizing that it is not only hard on the person diagnosed but also on their family. She expressed uncertainty about whether Bruce is fully aware of his condition, highlighting the complexities of the disease.
Frontotemporal dementia presents distinct symptoms from Alzheimer’s disease, affecting language processing areas of the brain and often leading to changes in speech, behaviors, and personality. Susan Dickinson explained that unexplained shifts in how a person interacts with the world, such as difficulty forming meaningful sentences or struggling with finances and decision-making, are common signs of frontotemporal dementia.
Heming Willis described coming to terms with her husband’s diagnosis as both a blessing and a curse, as it allowed her to understand what was happening to Bruce while making it slightly easier to cope with the situation.
In her role as a caregiver, Emma Heming Willis prefers to be called a “care partner” and stressed the importance of self-care for those in similar roles. She noted that her husband has taught their two daughters valuable lessons in love, patience, and resilience, even amid the challenges of his condition.
Additionally, she highlighted the importance of seeking help and resources, turning to organizations like the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration for support.
During World FTD Awareness Week, Emma Heming Willis is using her platform to share information about caregiving for individuals with frontotemporal dementia. She is releasing daily videos in conversation with experts on her YouTube channel to provide valuable insights and support.
For those seeking more information about frontotemporal dementia and caregiving, resources from the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration are available, including a diagnostic checklist and access to a helpful webinar featuring AFTD’s HelpLine staff. The organization offers guidance and support for those dealing with frontotemporal dementia and can be reached at 866-507-7222 or email@example.com.