‘Options are slim’: Sad reality of Bruce Willis’ health battle revealed

May 22, 2023
Willis' family have regularly kept the public up to date with the actor's health battle. Source: Getty Images.

As action star Bruce Willis continues to grapple with his recent dementia diagnosis, his wife has offered a candid update regarding the realities of his condition.

Following a recent screening of the film Little Empty Boxes, a documentary by Max Lugavere about his mother’s struggle with dementia, Emma Heming Willis openly discussed her husband’s condition.

“When you live the world of dementia you know that options are slim,” she said.

“But some won’t take that lying down which is how change is made, and I got to witness the beauty in that last night.”

Emma’s update follows a recent heartbreaking development that the Die Hard star had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia.

According to Dementia Australia, frontotemporal dementia causes progressive damage to either or both the frontal or temporal lobes of the brain and can impact behaviour, personality, language, and movement.

Despite the difficult news, the 68-year-old’s family expressed their “relief to finally have a clear diagnosis”.

“As a family, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for the outpouring of love and compassion for Bruce over the past ten months. Your generosity of spirit has been overwhelming, and we are tremendously grateful for it. For your kindness, and because we know you love Bruce as much as we do, we wanted to give you an update,” the statement began.

“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). Unfortunately, challenges with communication are just one symptom of the disease Bruce faces. While this is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis.

“FTD is a cruel disease that many of us have never heard of and can strike anyone. 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. 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.

“Bruce always believed in using his voice in the world to help others, and to raise awareness about important issues both publicly and privately. We know in our hearts that – if he could today — he would want to respond by bringing global attention and a connectedness with those who are also dealing with this debilitating disease and how it impacts so many individuals and their families.

“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. Your continued compassion, understanding, and respect will enable us to help Bruce live as full a life as possible.”

Fans around the world were left in a state of shock following the announcement of Willis’ original aphasia diagnosis, a condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate.

At the time the Hollywood icon’s family took to social media on Wednesday, March 30, 2022, to post a joint statement announcing the actor would be “stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him” following his diagnosis.


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Willis achieved fame thanks to a leading role in the comedy-drama series Moonlighting and went on to appear in over 70 films. Some of Willis’s notable credits include The Last Boy Scout, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, science fiction hits such as 12 Monkeys, The Fifth Element, and Armageddon, as well as the supernatural thriller The Sixth Sense.

However, it was his role as John McClane in the Die Hard franchise that gave him global recognition and cemented his status as an action star.

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