Thousands more visit Alzheimer’s website after Bruce Willis dementia diagnosis

US

The family of US actor Bruce Willis revealing that he had been diagnosed with dementia has meant thousands more visitors to the Alzheimer’s Society website, the charity said.

The 67-year-old Pulp Fiction star was recently diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), with the news shared by his family on Instagram on 16 February.

It followed the announcement in March 2022, that he was suffering from aphasia, a condition that affects language and speech.

Alzheimer’s Society’s chief executive Kate Lee said Alzheimers.org.uk saw 12,000% more visitors between February 14/15 and February 16/17.

Ms Lee was speaking as the charity, which provides support to carers and Alzheimer’s patients, launched a campaign to highlight the changing nature of intimate relationships following a dementia diagnosis, which has received backing from celebrities.

The campaign features an emotional TV and radio advert, narrated by Oscar-winning British actor Colin Firth.

It comes after Willis’s wife, Emma Heming Willis, asked paparazzi not yell at the actor and said members of the press attempted to speak to her husband when he was getting coffee with friends.

Sharing her experience as a caregiver, she said in an Instagram video: “If you are someone that is looking after someone with dementia, you know how difficult and stressful it can be to get someone out into the world and just to navigate them safely, even just to get a cup of coffee.”

She requested photographers and “video people” to “keep your space” and asked other caregivers or dementia care specialists to share their tips and advice on how to get their loves ones “out in the world safely”.

Heming Willis has previously spoken about how putting her family’s needs above her own had taken a “toll”, after her husband’s aphasia diagnosis.

In an interview with The Bump website last year she said: “I struggle with making the time for self-care every day. I put my family’s needs above my own, which I found does not make me any kind of hero.

“That amount of care for everyone else within my household had taken a toll on my mental health and overall health, and it served no one in my family.”

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‘A difficult diagnosis’ for Bruce Willis

The NHS says FTD causes changes to personality, behaviour, language and movement, due to the areas of the brain that it affects, the front and sides of the brain.

It mostly affects those between the ages of 45 and 65.

As with other forms of dementia, the onset of the disease is slow to begin with but gradually gets worse.

There is currently no cure for FTD, but treatments such as drugs, therapies and memory activities can help control some of the symptoms.

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