“To finally understand what was happening so that I could be into the acceptance of what is — it doesn’t make it any less painful, but… just being in the know of what is happening to Bruce makes it a little easier,” she said on Monday’s episode of the Today show. When asked if her husband, who retired from acting, is aware of what’s happening, she replied, “It’s hard to know.”
Frontotemporal dementia is different from Alzheimer’s in a few ways, [Susan Dickinson, head of the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration] told Today. In particular, it affects a different part of the brain — language processing areas rather than areas involved in memory — so the symptoms present differently. “It can affect speech, behaviors, personality and what we call executive functioning,” Dickinson said, referring to skills that help to plan ahead and achieve goals.
Heming Willis referred to herself as Willis’ “care partner” rather than a “care taker” because “it’s important for care partners to look after themselves so that they can be the best care partner for the person they’re caring for.” She added, “The most important thing was to be able, for us, to say what the disease was, explain what it is, because when you know what the disease is from a medical standpoint it sort of all makes sense. It was important that we let [our daughters] know what it is because I don’t want there to be any stigma or shame attached to their dad’s diagnosis or any form of dementia.”
You can watch the interview below.
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.
“It was the blessing and the curse,” Emma said of receiving Bruce’s diagnosis. pic.twitter.com/VY5yhVjZIf
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) September 25, 2023