Bruce Willis' Daughter Gives Update on His "Really Aggressive" Dementia
Tallulah Willis speaks out about her dad's frontotemporal dementia diagnosis.
After Bruce Willis was diagnosed first with aphasia and then with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), his family has continued to share updates about his condition. Now, in a new interview, Bruce's daughter Tallulah Willis has shed some light on why she, her sisters, mother Demi Moore, and Bruce's current wife Emma Heming Willis speak about their experience publicly. She also shared how her father is doing today and the "special" way that they spend their time together.
Tallulah appeared on The Drew Barrymore Show on Wednesday, Nov. 8. During the interview, she was asked about Bruce and how he is doing now following his diagnosis. "He has a really aggressive cognitive disease, a form of dementia that's very rare," the 29-year-old shared. She added that the 68-year-old Sixth Sense actor has been stable recently, which she knows is a good thing in this case.
"He is the same, which I think, in this regard, I've learned is the best thing that you can ask for," Tallulah said. "What I see is, I see love when I'm with him. And it's my dad and he loves me, which is really special."
Host Drew Barrymore asked Tallulah why she and her family have chosen to be so open with the public about Bruce and his condition. "I think it's twofold," Tallulah said. "I think on one hand it's who we are as a family. But also it's really important for us to spread awareness about FTD … If we can take something that we're struggling with as a family and individually to help other people, to turn it around, to make something beautiful about it, that's really special for us."
Tallulah also spoke with Barrymore about how she is connecting with her dad at this time. "Part of what's been a really beautiful way for me to heal through this is becoming like an archeologist to my dad's stuff, his world, ad his little trinkets and doo-dads." Tallulah brought a few old photos she found of Bruce to the show. Bruce and Moore's youngest daughter also said that she and her father have been connecting through their love of music. "It's a huge part of also how I spend time with him now is playing music and just kind of sitting in this energy of love," she said. "And it's really special."
Bruce's family revealed in February 2023 that he had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. He had previously been diagnosed with the communication disorder aphasia and retired from acting. According to the Mayo Clinic, frontotemporal dementia "is an umbrella term for a group of brain disorders that primarily affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain … Some people with frontotemporal dementia have dramatic changes in their personalities and become socially inappropriate, impulsive or emotionally indifferent, while others lose the ability to use language properly."
Tallulah previously opened up about how Bruce's diagnosis impacted her—and about her own experience with anorexia nervosa and diagnosis with borderline personality disorder—in an "as told to" for Vogue in May.
"I've known that something was wrong for a long time," she said of her dad. "It started out with a kind of vague unresponsiveness, which the family chalked up to Hollywood hearing loss: 'Speak up! Die Hard messed with Dad's ears.' Later that unresponsiveness broadened, and I sometimes took it personally."
She continued, "He still knows who I am and lights up when I enter the room. (He may always know who I am, give or take the occasional bad day. One difference between FTD and Alzheimer's dementia is that, at least early in the disease, the former is characterized by language and motor deficits, while the latter features more memory loss.) I keep flipping between the present and the past when I talk about Bruce: he is, he was, he is, he was. That's because I have hopes for my father that I'm so reluctant to let go of. I've always recognized elements of his personality in me, and I just know that we'd be such good friends if only there were more time."
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