Tallulah Willis shares how dad Bruce is doing amid 'aggressive' dementia

Kevin Mazur
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Tallulah Willis visited “The Drew Barrymore Show” and shared why it felt important for her family to be open about the “aggressive” condition, frontotemporal dementia, her dad, Bruce Willis, has.

“What’s going on with my dad — he has a really aggressive cognitive disease, a form of dementia that’s very rare,” the 29-year-old daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore told Barrymore in the Nov. 8 episode.

In February 2023, the Willis family revealed that the “Die Hard” actor, 68, had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) after first sharing in 2022 that he'd been struggling with aphasia, a condition that impacts a person's ability to speak and write. FTD differs from better-known types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, because it impacts communication, executive functioning, behavior and personality.

Tallulah Willis said the family — which includes Moore, stepmom Emma Heming Willis, and sisters Rumer, Scout, Mabel and Evelyn — decided to be candid about Bruce Willis' health for a few reasons.

“On one hand, it’s who we are as a family,” she said. “But also, it’s really important for us to spread awareness about FTD because there’s not enough information out there.”

Tallulah Willis admitted to Barrymore she was unfamiliar with FTD until her dad’s diagnosis.

“I had no idea,” she said. “The bigger version of what I’m trying to do (is) if we can take something that we’re struggling with as a family and individually and help other people to turn it around, to make something beautiful about it, that’s really special for us.”

As a way to grapple with her dad’s illness, Tallulah Willis has been going through his possessions and learning more about him.

“A really beautiful way for me to heal through this is becoming like an archaeologist to my dad’s stuff, his world, his little trinkets and doodads,” she said on the show.

She also reflected on what it's like to spend time with her dad these days, explaining that they often listen to music. "Playing music ... and sitting in that and this energy of love, it's really special," she said.

Asked about the current state of her father's health, Tallulah Willis replied, "He is the same, which, I think, in this regard I’ve learned is the best thing you can ask for. I see love when I'm with him, and it's my dad and he loves me."

In May 2023, Vogue published an essay by Tallulah Willis, which addressed her father’s health. She had wondered if something was amiss “for a long time” with the “Sixth Sense” actor even before the family had a name for what Bruce Willis was experiencing.

“It started out with a kind of vague unresponsiveness, which the family chalked up to Hollywood hearing loss: ‘Speak up! ‘Die Hard’ messed with Dad’s ears,’” she said in the essay. “Later that unresponsiveness broadened, and I sometimes took it personally. He had had two babies with my stepmother, Emma Heming Willis, and I thought he lost interest in me.’”

Tallulah Willis admitted that she didn’t realize that the FTD “chips away at his cognition and behavior day by day.” While she’s had to navigate a lot of grief about her father's condition, she’s also found ways to find beauty.

“I can savor that time, hold my dad’s hand, and feel that it’s wonderful. I know that trials are looming, that this is the beginning of grief, but that whole thing about loving yourself before you can love someone else — it’s real,” she wrote.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com