Award-winning actor Bruce Willis’ struggle with dementia and aphasia has gotten difficult for him, his wife announced Monday.
“Dementia is hard,” Heming Willis told the TODAY show. “It’s hard on the person diagnosed, it’s also hard on the family. And that is no different for Bruce, or myself, or our girls. When they say this is a family disease, it really is.”
Heming Willis also said it was uncertain whehter her husband is aware of his condition.
“It’s hard to know,” she said.
In March of this year, the 67-year-old actor’s family announced that Willis was diagnosed with aphasia, a cognitive disability affecting speech. He was later diagnosed with dementia.
“As a result of this and with much consideration, Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him,” read the statement signed by Willis’ wife, Emma Heming Willis, his ex-wife Demi Moore, and his five children, Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, Mabel, and Evelyn.
“We are moving through this as a strong family unit, and wanted to bring his fans in because we know how much he means to you, as you do to him,” they said. “As Bruce always says, ‘Live it up’ and together we plan to do just that.”
There are many potential causes of aphasia. It often occurs after a stroke or head injury, but can also develop gradually due to a slow-growing brain tumor or a disease that causes degenerative damage, like Alzheimer’s disease. It’s treated primarily with speech therapy and learning non-verbal means of communication.
Willis had been working steadily and frequently. Renowned for films like “Die Hard,” “Pulp Fiction” and “The Sixth Sense,” Willis has in recent years churned out straight-to-video thrillers. Last year, he starred in a staggering eight films. Most came and went quietly, including titles like “Cosmic Sin,” “Out of Death” and “Deadlock.”
Most recently, Willis starred in February’s “Gasoline Alley” and “A Day to Die,” released in early March. Willis has already shot at least six more films due out in 2022 and 2023, including “Die Like Lovers,” “Corrective Measures” and “The Wrong Place.”
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article