Actress Emma Heming Willis has become an outspoken advocate for frontotemporal dementia (FTD) awareness following husband Bruce Willis’ retirement from acting due to being diagnosed with the progressive brain disorder earlier this year.
In a series of passionate Instagram videos, Emma called on doctors and media to stop referring to FTD as simply an “other dementia” and to properly educate the public on its symptoms and impacts. “Let me tell you something about that disease: it is real, it is out there, and it will bring you to your knees,” she stated.
FTD is the most common cause of early-onset dementia under age 60 but is often misdiagnosed due to its more behavioral and language-based early symptoms versus memory loss. Emma emphasized the importance of understanding what FTD and related diseases entail to reduce stigma and confusion.
She also opened up about the challenges of caring for Bruce while co-parenting their two young daughters. “This is a family disease” that is “hard on the person diagnosed” as well as loved ones, Emma said in an interview. The family aims to be honest about Bruce’s condition and teach their children compassion.
Emma’s courage in sharing her family’s FTD journey is raising much-needed awareness of this little-known form of dementia. By humanizing the impacts, she hopes to accelerate research for treatments and ultimately a cure. Her advocacy is surely inspiring many coping with FTD themselves or having a loved one diagnosed.