Emma Heming, the wife of Bruce Willis, has shared a poignant update about her husband’s declining health, acknowledging the uncertainty surrounding his awareness of his illness.
Back in February of this year, Emma revealed that her 68-year-old husband had received a diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia (FTD), a rare form of dementia characterized by behavioral, personality, and language deterioration.
On Monday, while struggling to hold back tears, she provided an update on Bruce’s deteriorating health, discussing the emotional toll of witnessing her husband’s gradual decline due to the disease.
Additionally, she shared that amidst the sadness, there was a heartwarming aspect to witness their two young daughters, Mabel (11) and Evelyn (eight), taking care of their father.
Emma opened up about this experience on the Today show, during her visit to its New York studio, saying, “What I’m learning is that dementia is hard. It’s hard on the person diagnosed. It’s also hard on the family. And that is no different for Bruce or myself or our girls.”
‘And when they say that this is a family disease, it really is.’
Exclusive: In honor of World Frontotemporal Dementia Awareness week, Bruce Willis’ wife Emma Heming Willis speaks to @hodakotb about the condition in her first interview since his diagnosis.— TODAY (@TODAYshow) September 25, 2023
“It was the blessing and the curse,” Emma said of receiving Bruce’s diagnosis. pic.twitter.com/VY5yhVjZIf
When asked how she handled explaining his illness to their children, Emma stated that their household has always valued honesty and openness. She emphasized that it was crucial to convey to their children what the disease was because understanding the medical aspects of it helped make sense of the situation.
She elaborated, “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.”
When questioned by host Hoda Kotb about Bruce’s awareness of his condition, Emma took a moment before revealing that it was challenging to determine.
Despite the difficulties involved in caring for her husband, Emma expressed that receiving a diagnosis had a dual impact. She explained, “I think it was the blessing and the curse. You know, to sort of finally understand what was happening so that I can be into the acceptance of what is.”
“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.”
Emma expressed the significance of looking beyond grief and sadness to appreciate the positive aspects unfolding in their lives. She emphasized the importance of raising awareness of Bruce’s condition without attaching any stigma or shame to it.
When asked about the lessons Bruce might be imparting to their daughters, Emma stated, “Honestly, he is the gift that keeps on giving. Love, patience, resilience, so much.” She acknowledged that Bruce’s strength had enabled her to step out of her comfort zone for interviews like the one on the Today show.
Hoda mentioned anecdotes from individuals with ailing family members, including a friend who believed that her husband’s diagnosis had a positive impact on her children. Hoda inquired whether Emma had observed a similar effect.
Emma confirmed, “That is what I’m noticing.” She emphasized that, although her children were inherently wonderful, this experience was providing them with lessons in care and love amid the sadness.
Emma pointed out that she preferred to be referred to as Bruce’s “care partner” rather than his “caretaker” and underscored the importance of self-care for those in similar roles. She also highlighted the significance of seeking support and mentioned organizations like the AFTD and Hilarity For Charity as valuable resources.
Emma mentioned receiving support from Demi Moore, Bruce’s ex-wife, and their three adult daughters: Rumer, Scout, and Tallulah.
Emma Dickinson, the CEO of The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD), contributed to the conversation by explaining that the disease could manifest in the frontal or temporal lobes, as indicated by its name.
Regarding the impact of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) on individuals, Emma Dickinson, CEO of The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD), explained, “One of the things that the frontal lobe controls is self-insight. We don’t know. Some people, that’s the first thing they lose, any understanding that they themselves have changed and other people retain that for a long time.”
Bruce Willis took a step back from his acting career in 2022 as he grappled with the onset of his illness, which led to a deterioration in his language abilities. In February 2023, his family released a joint statement confirming the progression of his condition.
The statement expressed the family’s gratitude for the overwhelming love and support they received after sharing Bruce’s initial diagnosis of aphasia in the spring of 2022. They went on to provide an update, stating that Bruce had received a more specific diagnosis: frontotemporal dementia (FTD). They acknowledged that challenges with communication were one of the symptoms he faced and noted that while this was painful, having a clear diagnosis was a relief.
The statement also shed light on the nature of FTD as a relatively lesser-known and cruel disease, particularly for individuals under the age of 60. The family highlighted that FTD is the most common form of dementia in this age group and emphasized the importance of early diagnosis.
Bruce Willis, known for his iconic roles in films like Die Hard, Armageddon, and The Fifth Element, had reportedly been dealing with cognitive issues on film sets years before his official diagnosis. Reports suggested that he even relied on an earpiece to receive lines during his performances. Instances of his cognitive struggles were noted during the filming of movies such as “American Siege” in 2020 and M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” in 2019.
Emma Heming says it’s ‘hard to know’ if husband Bruce Willis is aware of his dementia
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