Bruce Willis's Dementia Continues to Progress — He's "Not Totally Verbal"

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Oct. 16 2023, Updated 12:29 p.m. ET

Bruce Willis attends a formal event.
Source: Getty Images

The Gist:

  • Bruce Willis retired from acting in 2022.
  • Bruce suffers from aphasia and frontotemporal dementia, a condition he was diagnosed with in February 2023.
  • Bruce Willis is still alive despite the rumors on the internet that suggest he died.
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In March 2022, actor Bruce Willis's family announced his retirement from acting after he had been diagnosed with aphasia. Bruce's family rallied behind the legendary actor, issuing a statement detailing how aphasia would impact his cognitive abilities and reaffirming that they were grateful for fan support.

Now, the Glass actor's family has issued another, more serious update, this time concerning the progression of his dementia. Here's what to know about Bruce Willis's health.

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Bruce Willis wearing a black suit and blue shirt.
Source: Getty Images

Bruce Willis was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia in 2023.

In a statement on the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration website, the Willis family announced that Bruce was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, or FTD, in February 2023.

"Since we announced Bruce’s diagnosis of aphasia in spring 2022, Bruce’s condition has progressed and we now have a more specific diagnosis: frontotemporal dementia (known as FTD)," the statement began.

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"Unfortunately, challenges with communication are just one symptom of the disease Bruce faces. While this is painful, it's a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis," the statement continued. "For people under 60, FTD is the most common form of dementia, and because getting the diagnosis can take years, FTD is likely much more prevalent than we know."

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The family added, "Today there are no treatments for the disease, a reality that we hope can change in the years ahead. As Bruce’s condition advances, we hope that any media attention can be focused on shining a light on this disease that needs far more awareness and research."

The Willis family statement concluded by thanking fans, friends, and others for their support, saying, "Bruce has always found joy in life — and has helped everyone he knows to do the same. It has meant the world to see that sense of care echoed back to him and to all of us. We have been so moved by the love you have all shared for our dear husband, father, and friend during this difficult time."

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According to UCSF Health, the symptoms of FTD include difficulty speaking and finding the correct words to describe something; depressive moods; obsessive behaviors; and lack of social tact. Similarly, Mayo Clinic says aphasia, Bruce's previous diagnosis, also includes symptoms such as having difficulty finding words and speaking in short or incomplete sentences.

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The family's previous statement was signed by not only Bruce's current wife, Emma Heming, but also ex-wife Demi Moore and daughters Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, Mabel, and Evelyn. The page also included what may be a photo of Bruce walking along the beach.

Bruce Willis and wife Emma Heming Willis attend the 'Motherless Brooklyn' arrivals.
Source: Getty Images
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Bruce Willis's recent health update notes that he is "not totally verbal."

Glenn Gordon Caron, creator of Moonlighting, has remained very close with Bruce and his family over the years and was able to shed light on how the retired actor is doing in October 2023 — and it's a bit hapless. Caron told the New York Post that "FTD has rendered Willis largely unable to communicate," adding that it’s as if “he now sees life through a screen door" and "makes very little sense."

Caron further explained, “My sense is the first one to three minutes he knows who I am. He’s not totally verbal; he used to be a voracious reader — he didn’t want anyone to know that — and he’s not reading now. All those language skills are no longer available to him, and yet he’s still Bruce.”

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Although Bruce's communication skills may be declining, his family continues to provide fans with glimpses into his daily life via social media (and we're thankful for that!).

Fans and well-wishers keep the Willis family in their thoughts as they navigate this difficult time.

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