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Actress Demi Moore recently appeared on Good Morning America to share an update on Bruce Willis’ battle with frontotemporal dementia. VCG/VCG via Getty Images
  • Actress Demi Moore recently shared an update on Bruce Willis’ health on Good Morning America.
  • The former actor was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia in 2023 following an aphasia diagnosis in 2022.
  • Frontotemporal dementia affects people in their 50s and 60s and impacts executive functioning capabilities like language and motor skills.

Nearly one year after actor Bruce Willis was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, his ex-wife, actress Demi Moore, shared an update on his health.

Willis, 68, was previously diagnosed with aphasia — a disorder that affects people’s ability to communicate — in 2022. The “Die Hard” and “Pulp Fiction” star retired from acting following his aphasia diagnosis.

“I think given the givens, he’s doing very well,” Moore said during an interview with “Good Morning America,” on Wednesday.

During another recent interview on Sirius XM, Moore, the star of the new Hulu drama “Feud,” shared some advice for loved ones caring for a family member with dementia.

“When you let go of who they’ve been, or who you think they (are), or who even you would like them to be, you can then really stay in the present and take in the joy and the love that is present and there for all that they are, not all that they’re not,” she told radio host Andy Cohen.

Frontotemporal dementia affects around 60,000 Americans — the majority of whom are in their 50s and 60s.

Moore has been raising awareness of frontotemporal dementia since announcing Willis’ diagnosis on Instagram in February 2023. The family’s official statement was also shared on the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration’s website in February 2023.

“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,” the family wrote.

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a type of dementia that impacts executive functioning capabilities.

FTD involves the degeneration of several parts of the brain, but has the greatest impact on the frontal and temporal lobes, which are responsible for executive functioning tasks like decision-making, language, and social skills.

“FTD is unique in it causes loss of function in two of the four lobes of the brain, in the frontal and temporal lobes sparing the parietal lobes and cerebellum,” said Dr. Clifford Segil, neurologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA.

Similar to Alzheimer’s disease (AD), advanced FTD may lead to memory loss. FTD also affects personality, ability to communicate, and motor skills.

When language impairment occurs, it is called primary progressive aphasia (PPA).

Dr. S. Ahmad Sajjadi, associate professor of neurology and pathology at University of California, Irvine, told Healthline that early warning signs of frontotemporal dementia may include:

  • mild behavioral issues
  • apathy or lack of empathy
  • issues comprehending words

Sajjadi added that symptoms of advanced frontotemporal dementia may include:

  • severe obsession
  • agitation
  • disinhibited behavior

“In PPA patients can become mute or lose their ability to comprehend even single language structures,” Sajjadi said in an earlier interview.

FTD is often misdiagnosed as a movement disorder like Parkinson’s disease (PD) or a psychiatric issue.

To diagnose FTD, a neurologist will examine the symptoms and perform brain scans — magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans — to see if and how the brain structure is affected.

FTD is a form of young onset dementia, Sajjadi explained.

FTD accounts for about 10 to 20% of dementia cases, and is one of the most common types of dementia in younger people.

Though Alzheimer’s dementia is much more common than FTD, patients under 60 who rapidly develop cognitive, language, and behavioral issues should be evaluated for FTD, maybe even before Alzheimer’s dementia, Segil said.

About a third of cases are inherited, and other than family history, little is known about the risk factors for FTD.

“Despite not being common, FTD is a devastating illness since it affects individuals in the prime time of their life and when many still have young families,” Sajjadi said.

While some forms of dementia advance rapidly, FTD’s symptoms progress more gradually, Sajjadi said.

The speed of progression varies from person to person.

In rare cases, the disease can progress quickly, significantly impacting a person’s memory and cognition.

Some patients will simultaneously develop amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — a nervous system disease that impacts speech, movement, and cognition.

“In patients who have this form of disease, progression is fast,” Sajjadi said.

Currently, there are currently no treatments authorized for FTD. Treatments are typically prescribed off-label to people with the condition.

Various medications can help alleviate some of the side effects of FTD, like depression and irritability, to improve quality of life.

Speech therapy can also help patients manage aphasia symptoms, which Willis has experienced.

Unfortunately, there is no cure on the horizon, Sajjadi said.

“Our ability to diagnose exotic causes of memory loss have improved greatly, with easier access to advanced neuroimaging techniques like brain PET scans and high resolution 3T MRI [scans], but our treatment ability has not kept up with our improved diagnostic abilities,” Segil noted.

Actress Demi Moore recently shared an update on her ex-husband Bruce Willis.

In 2023, Willis was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), a type of dementia that impacts executive functioning like language and motor skills.

FTD is one of the most common types of dementia in younger people and mostly affects people in their 50s and 60s.

FTD progresses gradually, and though there is no treatment for FTD, there are therapies and medications that can alleviate the symptoms.