Bruce Willis, 68, makes rare appearance as he is seen for the first time since his wife Emma, 45, gave a heartbreaking update on actor's dementia

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  • The actor was pictured in the passenger seat of a car in Los Angeles on Monday
  • Appearance came on the same day his wife Emma opened up about his health
  • She told the Today show that it’s ‘hard to know’ if he’s aware of what’s happening

Bruce Willis has been pictured for the first time since his wife Emma Heming gave a heartbreaking update on his ongoing battle with dementia.

The Hollywood icon, 68, was seen in the passenger seat of a car in Los Angeles, on Monday – the same day that Emma, 45, revealed it’s ‘hard to know’ if he is even aware of what is happening to him health-wise. 

Sporting a quilted navy jacket and a matching navy hat, the actor was seen sitting with the passenger window down as he was driven around his home town in what has become an increasingly rare public outing amid his ongoing health struggles. 

In February of this year, Bruce’s family announced that he had been diagnosed with Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) – an uncommon form of dementia that causes a deterioration in behaviour, personality and language. 

Emma fought back tears while she opened up about how she and her two daughters with the actor are coping with the ‘grief and the sadness’ of watching the actor’s health decline in an interview on the Today show.

Much-loved: Bruce Willis was pictured in Los Angeles on Monday as he was seen for the first time since his wife Emma Heming Willis gave a heartbreaking update on actor's dementia

Much-loved: Bruce Willis was pictured in Los Angeles on Monday as he was seen for the first time since his wife Emma Heming Willis gave a heartbreaking update on actor’s dementia 

Sporting a quilted navy jacket and a matching navy hat, the actor was seen sitting with the passenger window down as he was driven around his home town

Sporting a quilted navy jacket and a matching navy hat, the actor was seen sitting with the passenger window down as he was driven around his home town

Inspirational: In an emotional interview on the Today show that day, Bruce's devoted wife said it was 'hard to know' if he was aware of what was happening to her husband health-wise

Inspirational: In an emotional interview on the Today show that day, Bruce’s devoted wife said it was ‘hard to know’ if he was aware of what was happening to her husband health-wise

The family: Bruce's daughters Scout and Tallulah showed their support to Emma after the interview (L-R) Rumer Willis, Demi Moore, Bruce Willis, Scout, Emma and Tallulah in 2019

The family: Bruce’s daughters Scout and Tallulah showed their support to Emma after the interview (L-R) Rumer Willis, Demi Moore, Bruce Willis, Scout, Emma and Tallulah in 2019

‘What I’m learning is that dementia is hard,’ she said, during an appearance at the show’s New York studio. ‘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. 

‘And when they say that this is a family disease, it really is.’ 

When asked how she went about explaining his illness to their children, she said: ‘I think it’s always been… 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 because when you know what the disease is from a medical standpoint it sort of all makes sense.

‘So it was important that we let them know what it is because, you know, I don’t want there to be any stigma or shame attached to their dad’s diagnosis, or for any form of dementia.’

When asked by host Hoda Kotb if he is aware of what is happening to him, Emma paused and revealed: ‘Hard to know’.

But despite the difficulty of caring for her husband, she said receiving a diagnosis has made life ‘easier’. 

‘I think it was the blessing and the curse. You know, to sort of finally understand what was happening so that I can be into the acceptance of what is.

‘It doesn’t make it any less painful, but just being in the acceptance and just being in the know of what is happening to Bruce just makes it a little bit easier.

Casual moment: Bruce kept a low profile while wrapped up warm in the car

Casual moment: Bruce kept a low profile while wrapped up warm in the car 

Proud: Taking to Instagram to reshare a behind-the-scenes clip of Emma's interview, Scout, 32, wrote: 'I truly could not be more proud of @emmahemingwillis'

Proud: Taking to Instagram to reshare a behind-the-scenes clip of Emma’s interview, Scout, 32, wrote: ‘I truly could not be more proud of @emmahemingwillis’

Strong: The youngest of Bruce and Demi's children Tallulah, 29, posted on her Instagram stories her older sister's words with the caption: 'So proud of my family'

Strong: The youngest of Bruce and Demi’s children Tallulah, 29, posted on her Instagram stories her older sister’s words with the caption: ‘So proud of my family’

Emotional: Emma fought back tears during her appearance on Today on Monday morning

Emotional: Emma fought back tears during her appearance on Today on Monday morning

‘There is so many beautiful things happening in our lives. It is just really important for me to look up from the grief and the sadness so that I can see what is happening around us,’ Emma added. 

In a particularly touching moment, Hoda asked Emma what she thinks Bruce is teaching their girls as they all come to terms with his illness as a family.

‘Honestly, he is the gift that keeps on giving. Love, patience, resilience, so much…’ Emma said.

‘And he’s teaching me and our whole… I mean, you know, for me to be out here doing this, this is not my comfort zone, but this is the power of Bruce.’

Hoda continued: ‘I have heard from people that have an ailing family member, and I remember this from a friend of mine… she said, “my husband’s diagnosis made my kids better people”. Is that what you’re noticing?’

‘That is what I’m noticing,’ Emma replied. ‘Listen, I think my kids would be great no matter what! And this is not what I would want for them. But really, like I said, it is teaching them so much and how to care and love and it’s a beautiful thing amongst the sadness.’

She confirmed that she refers to herself as Bruce’s ‘care partner’ as opposed to his ‘caretaker’, and also noted the importance of taking care of herself as well.

‘It’s so important to ask for help and support. And you can look to organizations like the AFTD, like Hilarity For Charity… it is sort of a great starting point.

‘And it’s important for care partners to look after themselves so that they can be the best care, partner for the person that they’re caring for,’ she added.

Doting dad: Bruce pictured with three of his daughters, including the two he shares with Emma

Doting dad: Bruce pictured with three of his daughters, including the two he shares with Emma

Family man: Bruce pictured with all of his family, including his ex-wife Demi Moore and their daughters Rumer, Scout, and Tallulah

Family man: Bruce pictured with all of his family, including his ex-wife Demi Moore and their daughters Rumer, Scout, and Tallulah

Emma’s emotional appearance on the Today show was praised by her stepdaughter Scout, 32, who is Bruce’s middle child with ex-wife Demi Moore, who reshared a behind-the-scenes clip from the interview on Instagram, while gushing about her stepmother’s bravery.
‘I truly could not be more proud of @emmahemingwillis for being willing to step out into the public eye, (even though it’s terrifying!!!) to share our family’s story in service of spreading awareness about FTD,’ she wrote.

‘Emma you are such a champion for this cause and you inspire me EVERY SINGLE F*****G DAY with your bravery and deep loving. Your courage is moving mountains #ftd #ftdawareness.’

The youngest of Bruce and Demi’s children, Tallulah, 29, posted on her Instagram stories her older sister’s words with the caption: ‘So proud of my family @emmahemingwillis.’

Bruce married Emma in 2009 and they have two children Mabel Ray Willis, 11, and Evelyn Penn Willis, nine.

The actor has remained good friends with his ex-wife Demi, whom he was married from 1987 to 2000. 

They have three daughters, Scout, Tallulah and Rumer, 35. 

Emma was joined by Emma Dickinson, the CEO of The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD), who explained: ‘What we know is, obviously, the disease can start in the frontal or the temporal lobes like the name signifies.

WHAT IS FRONTOTEMPORAL DEMENTIA?

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) affects the lobes of the brain behind the forehead, which deal with behaviour, problem-solving, planning and emotions.

The left temporal lobe is involved in the meaning of words and the names of objects.

The right recognises faces and familiar objects.

FTD occurs when nerve cells in these lobes die and the pathways that connect them change.

Symptoms are different from just the memory loss that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

These may include:

  • Personality changes, such as becoming tactless, uninterested in others and unsympathetic
  • Repeated and compulsive movements, such as continued use of certain phrases, hoarding and obsession over timekeeping 
  • Craving unhealthy food and forgetting table manners 
  • Speaking difficulties, including slow speech, grammatical errors and asking the meaning of familiar words like ‘bread’

FTD is rare, making up less than five per cent of all dementia cases.

However, it is one of the most common forms of the disease in people under 65.

Sufferers are usually aged between 45 and 65 at diagnosis.

The rate at which FTD progresses varies greatly, with life expectancies ranging from two years to more than 10 after diagnosis.

As it progresses and more of the brain becomes damaged, symptoms often become similar to those in the late stage of Alzheimer’s.

These may include memory loss and patients relying on others to care for them.

Around 10-to-20 per cent of FTD patients also have a motor disorder that affects their movement. 

This can lead to twitching, stiffness, slowed movement and loss of balance or co-ordination. 

In later stages, such patients may have difficulty swallowing. 

Around one-third of FTD patients have a family history of dementia.

And the condition is often caused by an inherited faulty gene from one of a patient’s parents.

Treatment focuses on helping a person live well by easing their symptoms. 

This may include counselling or a speech and language therapist.

Source: Alzheimer’s Society

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‘One of the things that the frontal lobe controls is self-insight. We don’t know. Some people, that’s the first thing they lose, any understanding that they themselves have changed and other people retain that for a long time.’

Bruce withdrew from acting in 2022 as he began his fight with the illness that caused his language abilities to deteriorate – and in February 2023, his family confirmed in a joint statement that his condition had ‘progressed’.

The statement read: ‘Our family wanted to start by expressing our deepest gratitude for the incredible outpouring of love, support and wonderful stories we have all received since sharing Bruce’s original diagnosis.

‘In the spirit of that, we wanted to give you an update about our beloved husband, father and friend since we now have a deeper understanding of what he is experiencing.

‘Since we announced Bruce’s diagnosis of aphasia in spring 2022, Bruce’s condition has progressed and we now have a more specific diagnosis: frontotemporal dementia (known as FTD).

‘Unfortunately, challenges with communication are just one symptom of the disease Bruce faces. While this is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis.

‘FTD is a cruel disease that many of us have never heard of and can strike anyone. For people under 60, FTD is the most common form of dementia, and because getting the diagnosis can take years, FTD is likely much more prevalent than we know.’

The Hollywood star, famed for roles in Die Hard, Armageddon and The Fifth Element, had reportedly been struggling with cognitive issues on the sets of his films years before his diagnosis – and even needed an earpiece to feed him lines.







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