Legendary actor Bruce Willis was recently spotted for the first time since his family revealed that he had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) last month. The retired actor stepped out in Santa Monica on Thursday. FTD symptoms often arise in younger patients between the ages of 40 and 65, according to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Bruce Willis’ wife recently opened up about her experience caring for someone with dementia. Emma Heming Willis hosted an Instagram live Friday, during which she spoke with occupational therapist Teepa Snow, who is also a dementia care specialist and founder of Positive Approach to Care. The two discussed the stigma surrounding a dementia diagnosis and how it is hard to understand if you haven’t been through it.
After Snow brought up the backlash Emma received when she asked photographers to leave her husband alone, Emma clarified her statements, explaining she didn’t expect them to refrain from photographing her husband. She just wanted them to do so respectfully.
“People were thinking I was asking for privacy. We weren’t asking for privacy. We were asking for respect of my husband and his disease,” she explained. “I think it just goes to show that there is just so much more education that needs to be about dementia.”
Emma believes people had a hard time understanding her request due to the lack of knowledge about the disease.
“I guess if you’re not living it or know it, you don’t understand it,” she suggested.
The lack of knowledge, in her opinion, stems from not many people talking about their experiences as caregivers and how certain situations can act as triggers.
“If you could take a look into my messages and my direct messages, honest to God, you would think the whole world has dementia,” Emma shared. “So many people now are coming to me and telling me, and I even have friends now, ‘You know, my grandmother, or my so-and-so had it,’ and I’m like, ‘Why didn’t I know?’ We’re not talking about it.”
Emma admitted it was hard even for her to open up about her husband’s diagnosis when she first learned about it, saying, “It is so isolating.”
She noted some of that isolation was her fault
“I did that to myself for a while of just holing up, and my friendship circle became smaller because it was also very difficult to talk about,” she revealed.
“It’s definitely very lonely,” Emma said. “Which, the blessing for us to be able to come out with our family’s statement was to be able to have a community, and how beautiful is this community? … Now I have a community of people out there that are willing to help.”