Wendy Williams, 59, Reveals Serious New Health Diagnoses

Wendy Williams, 59, Reveals Serious New Health Diagnoses

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  • Wendy Williams has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia and aphasia, according to her care team.

  • The health update comes shortly before the premiere of Where Is Wendy Williams? On Lifetime.

  • Here’s what you need to know about the diagnoses.

Since her talk show was canceled in June 2022, Wendy Williams has remained mostly quiet despite rumors about her well-being making headlines. Now, the former talk show host’s care team has shared a health update on her behalf.

According to a press release, the 59-year-old has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia and primary progressive aphasia, which “have already presented significant hurdles in Wendy’s life” and have behavioral and cognitive impacts. “Receiving a diagnosis has enabled Wendy to receive the medical care she requires,” the statement read.

Through the difficult diagnoses (and living with Grave’s disease and lymphedema) it seems the star has kept her sense of humor. “Wendy is still able to do many things for herself. Most importantly, she maintains her trademark sense of humor and is receiving the care she requires to make sure she is protected and that her needs are addressed. She is appreciative of the many kind thoughts and good wishes being sent her way,” her care team noted in the statement.

The announcement came a day after a cover story in People magazine quoted Williams’ family about the nature of her struggles, and ahead of a Lifetime documentary set to air Saturday.

People reported that the Lifetime documentary crew, which set out in 2022 to chronicle Williams’ comeback, stopped filming in April 2023 when her manager, Will Selby, said that Williams entered a facility to treat “cognitive issues,” which doctors connected to alcohol use.

Since April 2023, Williams has stayed in a facility to treat cognitive issues connected to alcohol use, per People. Her family said a court-appointed legal guardian was the only person with unrestricted access to Williams. “The people who love her cannot see her,” Williams’ sister Wanda told People. “I think the big (question) is: How the hell did we get here?”

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is an umbrella term for a group of brain diseases that mainly affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, per Mayo Clinic. These areas of the brain are associated with personality, behavior, and language. In frontotemporal dementia, parts of these lobes shrink, known as atrophy. According to the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, FTD affects an estimated 50,000-60,000 Americans and accounts for 10-20% of all dementia cases.

Primary progressive aphasia is a type of frontotemporal dementia that affects the ability to communicate, per Mayo Clinic. People who have it can have trouble expressing their thoughts and understanding or finding words. This condition progresses slowly, and eventually, those affected are not able to understand written or spoken language.

There’s currently no cure or treatment for frontotemporal dementia, although research into treatments is ongoing. Likewise, primary progressive aphasia can’t be cured, and there are no medicines to treat it. However, some therapies might help improve or maintain your ability to communicate and manage your condition.

Despite the unknowns of her current condition and future wellness, Williams’ loved ones told People that they’re focused on getting her better. “There is not a person in this family who doesn’t want the same thing for Wendy, and that is her health,” Wanda said. Williams’ niece added, “She can’t wait to start the next chapter of her life.”

We are keeping Williams and her family in our thoughts through this difficult time. The documentary Where Is Wendy Williams? premieres on Lifetime February 24, with part two airing the next day.

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