During a visit to NBC's "Today" show on Monday, Emma Heming Willis, the wife of actor Bruce Willis, discussed her husband's battle with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and said that "it's hard to know" if the star is aware of his condition.
Heming Willis, who calls herself her husband's "care partner," appeared on the show in recognition of World Frontotemporal Dementia Awareness Week. “What I'm learning is that dementia is hard on the person diagnosed and it's hard on the family," she said. FTD is the result of damage to neurons in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain and can result in the loss of speech, bodily functions and movement, said Susan Dickinson, CEO of the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, who joined her on the show.
"It was a blessing and a curse to finally understand what was happening to him so I can be into the acceptance of what it is," Heming Willis, 45, said. "It doesn't make it any less painful, but just being in the know of what is happening to Bruce makes it a little bit easier."
Heming Willis added that it was important to discuss the actor's condition with the couple's two young daughters, 11-year-old Mabel and 9-year-old Evelyn. "I don't want there to be any stigma or shame to their dad's diagnosis or for any form of dementia," she told "Today" co-anchor Hoda Kotb.
"We’re a very honest and open household, and the most important thing was to be able for us to say what the disease was, explain what it is,” she added.
Willis, 68, has three adult daughters — Rumer, 35; Scout, 32, and Tallulah, 29, from his first marriage to actor Demi Moore.
Last year, Willis was diagnosed with aphasia, which affects how a person communicates, especially using speech. This February, Willis' family announced that the "Die Hard" actor's condition had advanced to FTD.