Bruce Willis is leaning on family after it's announced he has dementia
16th February 2023

The die-hard support system behind Bruce Willis’ brutal health battles: How actor’s ex Demi Moore and wife Emma have united to care for him – as they proudly brand themselves the ‘Ladies of Willis/Moore’ while revealing his dementia diagnosis

  • Bruce’s family has revealed the actor has dementia as a result of aphasia    
  • The actor announced that he had been diagnosed with the condition in April
  • FEMAIL reveals how he is relying on his ‘blended family’ during this tough time 
  • READ MORE: Bruce Willis’ family announces he has dementia 

Bruce Willis has spent years playing the Hollywood hero, fighting bad guys on-screen while earning himself fame and fortune and one of the movie industry’s most iconic ‘tough guys’. 

However, when the 67-year-old actor was diagnosed with rare brain condition aphasia – it was a strong group of ‘Willis/Moore ladies’ who would prove to be his toughest allies.

The Die Hard star’s ‘blended family’ has long been something of an enigma in a world where divorce and separation often leads to a bitter separation of households, kids, and even friends. 

But in Bruce’s case, both his ex-wife Demi Moore and his current spouse Emma Heming have put aside any differences in order to prove that the vow ‘in sickness and in health’ lasts long the end of a marriage. 

Today, the two women once again came together – along with their wider blended family of five daughters – to rally behind the actor while revealing that he has been dealt yet another medical blow: a dementia diagnosis caused by his aphasia. 

Devastating: Bruce Willis ‘ family have revealed the actor has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) – less than one year after he retired from acting due to his battle with brain disorder, aphasia

Thursday, his family released a statement revealing that the actor now has dementia and expressed their gratitude for his supporters 

In a bold show of unity, Demi, 60, Emma, 44, and Bruce’s three adult daughters – Rumer, Tallulah, and Scout – shared the news of his latest medical hurdle in a joint Instagram post, which they signed: ‘Ladies of Willis/Moore’.  

The women revealed that Bruce has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) – less than a year after they shared a similar post announcing that the on-screen star was stepping away from acting amid his battle with aphasia.  

‘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,’ the post read. 

‘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. 

‘To read our full statement and learn more about this disease please go to the link in our bio. In Love & Gratitude, Ladies of Willis/Moore.’

The women continued their joint statement on the official website for the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, writing: ‘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.

‘Today there are no treatments for the disease, a reality that we hope can change in the years ahead. As Bruce’s condition advances, we hope that any media attention can be focused on shining a light on this disease that needs far more awareness and research.

The family revealed earlier this year that the legendary actor was retiring from show business as his disorder effects his ability to speak and understand language

Willis was reunited with his former costar Travolta, 68, in the action-packed film Paradise City – which was completed before he announced his retirement in March

‘Bruce always believed in using his voice in the world to help others, and to raise awareness about important issues both publicly and privately.

‘We know in our hearts that – if he could today – he would want to respond by bringing global attention and a connectedness with those who are also dealing with this debilitating disease and how it impacts so many individuals and their families.’

The statement concluded: ‘Bruce has always found joy in life – and has helped everyone he knows to do the same. It has meant the world to see that sense of care echoed back to him and to all of us.’ 

Their post was accompanied by a picture of Bruce standing on a beach. 

It is the latest indication of the key role that both Bruce’s former and current spouses are playing in his medical journey – along with his five children: Bruce and Demi’s three daughters and his two daughters with Emma, Mabel and Evelyn. 

In the past, Bruce has offered a rare glimpse into what his life has been like over the past nine months and – perhaps most importantly of all – the people who have surrounded him during that time: ex-wife Demi Moore, current wife Emma Heming, and their blended brood of five daughters. 

Demi, 60, took to Instagram over the holidays to share the first image of her former husband since his aphasia diagnosis, posting a sweet, candid snap of beaming Bruce posing in front of a Christmas tree alongside his former and current spouse, as well as daughters Rumer, 34, Scout, 31, Tallulah, 28, Mabel Ray, 10, and Evelyn Penn, eight.

Bruce Willis’ ex-wife, Demi Moore, and his new wife, Emma Heming Willis, and their five kids are supporting the actor through his battle with the brain condition aphasia

Demi gave a glimpse into their unique – but strong – bond when she shared a series of sweet snaps that showed her hanging out with Bruce, Emma, and their kids

Bruce shares three girl – Rumer (second from left), 34, Scout (right), 31, and Tallulah (center), 28 – with Demi (second from right) and two – Mabel, 10, and Evelyn, eight – with Emma (left)

While Bruce’s big grin served as a positive indication about his wellbeing, the photo also sent another clear message about the people in his life who he holds nearest and dearest – and highlighted his enduring bond with his ex-wife, Demi, which looked to be stronger than ever, decades after they divorced.

The Die Hard star was married to Demi from 1987 to 1998 – but despite going their separate ways more then two decades ago, the two have remained firm friends – and when Bruce got re-married to Emma, 44, in 2009, Demi was nothing but supportive, even attending the wedding with her own partner at the time, Ashton Kutcher.

Now, 13 years after Bruce and Emma tied the knot, Demi said she considered Bruce’s wife and their two kids part of her own ‘family,’ as she gave an inside look into their unique – but strong – bond. 

As Bruce continues to fight the debilitating brain condition, FEMAIL has uncovered everything you need to know about the powerful women supporting him through the battle. Bruce is seen with three of his daughters

‘We are FAMILY,’ she wrote in the caption of the photos, which showed them all enjoying a meal together, posing as a group, and playing with Demi’s dog Pilaf. ‘Getting into the holiday spirit.’ 

Bruce looked as happy and as relaxed as ever, grinning from ear to ear alongside his family in one of the shots and holding onto his wife’s hand during a tender, loving moment in another.

Over the years, Bruce has spoken about his blended family on numerous occasions and he has made it clear that his five children are his top priority. He previously explained how he and Demi made a ‘lifelong commitment’ to put any jealousy behind them and stay close for their kids.

As Bruce continues to fight the debilitating brain condition that has left him with dementia with his ex-wife, current spouse, and five daughters by his side, FEMAIL has uncovered everything you need to know about the powerful women supporting him through the battle.

Inside Bruce and Demi’s 10-year romance: The pair married in Vegas on a whim but split after a decade together

Bruce and Demi (pictured in 1994) wed at the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on November 21, 1987

The former couple’s eldest daughter, Rumer, was born in 1988, followed by Scout in 1991 and Tallulah in 1994

Bruce and Demi met at the Los Angeles premiere of the 1987 action comedy Stakeout, which starred actor Emilio Estevez — Demi’s then-fiancé. 

The actress, who was previously married to singer Freddy Moore from 1981 to 1985, started dating Bruce shortly after her split from Emilio. 

After just three months together, they wed at the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on November 21, 1987. 

The pair (seen in 1997) announced their split in 1998 after a decade of marriage, and their divorce was finalized in 2000, but the remained committed to being best friends and co-parents 

‘We were moving to the gambling tables when Bruce said, “I think we should get married,”‘ she wrote in her 2019 memoir, Inside Out. 

‘We’d been joking about it on the flight there, but suddenly it didn’t seem like he was kidding.’

Their eldest daughter, Rumer, was born in 1988, followed by Scout in 1991 and Tallulah in 1994.

Bruce and Demi announced their split in 1998, after a decade of marriage, and their divorce was finalized in 2000. 

That same year, the Die Hard actor opened up about their enduring friendship and his dedication to co-parenting.

‘I still love Demi. We’re very close,’ he told Rolling Stone. ‘We have three children whom we will continue to raise together, and we’re probably as close now as we ever were. 

‘We realize we have a lifelong commitment to our kids. Our friendship continues. The institution has been set aside.

‘It’s difficult to live your life and marriage under a magnifying glass, which is what happens to movie star couples.’

How Bruce overcame his jealousy after Demi moved on with Ashton so the two could remain friends

Bruce forged a bond with Demi’s new husband, Ashton Kutcher (seen together with Bruce and Demi’s children in 2003), whom she married in 2005. Demi and Ashton split in 2011

Bruce (seen with Demi earlier this year) said actor Will Smith gave him an important lesson. ‘He said, “Dude, you’ve got to do whatever it takes to get the kids and all the spouses or the girlfriend together. You’ve got to show your kids it’s OK.” ‘It was like a light went on’

In 2005, Demi married actor Ashton, and while Bruce eventually became friends with his ex-wife’s new husband, they both admitted it was an adjustment at first.

Bruce, who remained single for a decade after his divorce, credited his friend Will Smith with helping him get over his jealousy when Demi and Ashton started dating in 2003.

‘During some very dark hours he talked to me about it,’ he told Playboy in 2007. ‘He said, “Dude, you’ve got to do whatever it takes to get the kids and all the spouses or the girlfriend together. You’ve got to show your kids it’s OK.” 

‘It was like a light went on. Ding. So Will, thanks. And thanks for all those good movies you’re making.’ 

Ashton shared a similar statement during an interview with Live magazine, saying: ‘People ask us, “How do you guys get on so well?” Well, I don’t like everything Bruce does, and I’m sure he doesn’t think everything I do is great.

‘But being with Bruce is normal to me now. We go scuba-diving, skiing, we hang out with the girls together, we watch movies, we talk about sport.’ 

A glimpse into their blended family now: Demi was nothing but supportive after Bruce fell in love with Emma

In 2009, Bruce married Emma (left), an English model and actress, on the Turks and Caicos islands, but he continued to remain close with Demi (right)

Bruce and his wife Emma have two daughters, Mabel, nine, and Evelyn, seven, together 

‘We’ve become like a tribe,’ Bruce said of their blended family while speaking with W Magazine that year. He is seen with wife Emma earlier this year

In 2009, Bruce married Emma, an English model and actress, on the Turks and Caicos islands – with Demi and Ashton among their wedding guests. 

‘We’ve become like a tribe,’ Bruce said of their blended family while speaking with W Magazine that year. 

Emma added that she met Demi and Ashton early on in her relationship to Bruce, saying she was ‘really blessed because from day one it’s been comfortable and fun.’ 

The Unbreakable star noted that people are often baffled by his friendship with Demi. 

He explained: ‘It’s generated a lot of interest because everyone can understand resentment and envy in the breakup of a marriage, but they don’t understand how I can get along with my ex like that.

Emma and Demi have also forged a close bond and the Ghost actress regularly spends quality time with Bruce’s two youngest children during their family get-togethers 

In 2020, Bruce and Demi made headlines after they spent four weeks in quarantine with their daughters, two of their daughters’ boyfriends, and her assistant amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Bruce’s wife Emma was not quarantined with her husband and his ex-wife

‘Demi and I made a choice to put the kids first, and we’re really lucky that it turns out we all have fun together.’ 

Demi and Ashton ended up splitting in 2011, and they finalized their divorce two years later. 

Meanwhile, Bruce and Emma went on to welcome their daughter Mabel in 2012. Two years later, they had Evelyn.

During an interview with Larry King in March 2015, Rumer praised her parents for getting along and making it a point to remain a family after they divorced and married other people.

‘They always made an effort to do all of the family events still together and made such an effort to still have our family be as one unit, as opposed to two separate things, which I think really made an impact,’ she said.

In 2020, Bruce and Demi made headlines after they spent four weeks in quarantine with their daughters, two of their daughters’ boyfriends, and her assistant amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The family had a great time wearing matching pajamas and posing with the same books while stuck inside 

Scout later revealed on a podcast that her stepmother and younger sisters weren’t with them because one of the girls poked herself with a need in the park and was awaiting test results  

‘They made such an effort to still have our family be as one unit, as opposed to two separate things, which I think really made an impact,’ Rumer said of her parents in 2015 

The actor’s wife and two youngest daughters were not with them, but Scout later explained that there was a simple explanation for their absence. 

‘My stepmom was going to come up here with my little sisters,’ she said on the Dopey podcast. 

‘But my younger sister, who is now actually seven years old, at a park, had never gotten a talk about not f**king with hypodermic needles that she found, so she actually tried to poke her shoe with it and poked her foot. 

‘So my stepmom had to be in LA waiting to get the results from taking her to the doctor so my dad came up here early and then travel got crazy so my stepmom stayed in LA with my little sisters.’ 

Back in April, when Bruce announced that he was retiring from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia – a condition caused by brain damage that affects one’s ability to speak, write, and understand language – Demi, Emma, and his five kids shared a joint statement to Bruce’s ‘amazing supporters.’

In April, when Bruce announced that he had been diagnosed with aphasia, Demi, Emma, and his five kids shared a joint statement to Bruce’s ‘amazing supporters’ 

‘We are moving through this as a strong family unit, and wanted to bring his fans in because we know how much he means to you, as you do to him,’ it read 

‘To Bruce’s amazing supporters, as a family we wanted to share that our beloved Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and has recently been diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting his cognitive abilities,’ they wrote. 

‘As a result of this and with much consideration Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him. 

‘This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support. 

‘We are moving through this as a strong family unit, and wanted to bring his fans in because we know how much he means to you, as you do to him. As Bruce always says, “Live it up” – and together we plan to do just that.’ 

The statement was signed ‘Emma, Demi, Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, Mabel, and Evelyn.’ 

Aphasia, the brain condition suffered by Bruce Willis, can leave a person unable to communicate

The world learned on Wednesday that Hollywood legend Bruce Willis, 67, would retire due to his diagnosis of aphasia, a potentially devastating condition that causes a person to lose communication skills. 

Willis’ family announced that the condition would cause the Die Hard star to step away ‘from the career that has meant so much to him.’ 

Around one million Americans suffer from the condition, the National Institutes of Health reports, and around 180,000 people are diagnosed with it every year. 

It can manifest itself in multiple ways, and is often either the result of a head injury, a stroke, a tumor or other brain deterioration.

Aphasia can be devastating as well, with experts saying it causes depression in over a third of cases, can lead to personality shifts and can even alienate friends and family from the affected person. 

Other famous examples of aphasia include former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke. 

‘Imagine being dropped in a country where you do not speak the language – cannot understand, read, write or speak. It would impact all of your interactions – this is what it is like to have aphasia,’  Darlene Williamson, president of the aphasia association, told

While it is impossible to say for Willis in particular how drastically the condition has effected him and his behavior, Williamson reports that it can often be devastating for patients.

‘The consequences of living with a language impairment can alter someone’s behavior and outlook on life,’ Williamson said.

‘Approximately 35 percent of individuals with aphasia experience some depression.’

The cause of the condition, which is often some sort of traumatic brain injury or a stroke, can lead to massive personality shifts.

‘[Aphasia is] difficulty with language that comes about from some kind of injury to the brain. The most common source is stroke… but it could come from any other type of damage,’ Dr Brenda Rapp, a cognitive scientist at Johns Hopkins University, told 

Certain infections that impact the brain’s language centers can cause aphasia to form as well, along with cognitive decline and deterioration associated with dementia. 

The condition can make it very hard for an actor like Willis to continue in his career, as just the process of speaking out lines can become a challenge.

‘It would surely be difficult,’ Williamson said about attempting to continue acting while afflicted with the condition.

‘Aphasia affects comprehension of language, speaking, as well as reading and writing. There are varying levels of severity which would be another determining factor. It may not be impossible, but acting would require extra accommodations.’

Dr Rapp said that despite communication failures caused by the condition, people who suffer the condition still have the same thoughts, and are internally the same person. While the experience can be alienating, loved ones should remember that the person has not changed. Pictured: Willis with family and friends after a ‘roast’ event in 2018

There are four common types of aphasia that make up a vast majority of cases: fluent – often called Wernicke’s; non-fluent – known as Broca’s; anomic; and Primary Progressive Aphasia. 

Rapp explained that there are different forms of the condition because each represents a different type of breakdown in the process of communication.

Whether it is the ability to translate thoughts into proper words, the ability to physically say words,  or the ability to interpret and understand speech from others, each part of communication is a complex process, and even slight brain damage can cause issue.

While the condition does cause communication failures, Rapp notes that the person themselves is still the same. 

Their thoughts, beliefs and feeling towards their loved ones remain, even if it can be frustrating and alienating for both the aphasia patient and those around them to deal with this condition. 

Willis’ family did not reveal what type he was facing, or how severe of a case he had, or what was the root cause found for the condition. 

According to the Stroke Association, a UK based group, those who suffer Wernicke’s aphasia have the ability to string together long sentences of words, but will often say things in a way that they do not make sense, or even use made up words.

They will also suffer from impaired reading and writing ability, and may have trouble understanding clear verbal communication towards them.

One example used by Rapp is that a person may misunderstand the sentence ‘John kicked the dog’. 

Dr Brenda Rapp, a cognitive scientist at Johns Hopkins University, explains that aphasia is often caused by a stroke, and can manifest itself in many different ways

While the average person would clearly understand who kicked who in that scenario, a person dealing with this type of the condition may struggle to figure out whether John or the dog was the person that did the kicking. 

Broca’s aphasia will often cause a person to forget words or put together a proper string of words even when their brain can fully understand what they want to say.

A person suffering from this type of the condition will often use simple, short, sentences to get across speech as they are unable to properly say what they want to at times.

The Stroke Association says that these sentences will often be of around four words or less.

A person suffering from Broca’s aphasia will also struggle with writing, but their reading ability is left unaffected.

Someone suffering from anomic aphasia may suffer to find specific verbs and nouns that they need to get their point across, and will speak very vaguely. 

This may also translate into their writing, where they will just not be able to generate the correct words necessary to say what they would like to say.

Primary Progressive Aphasia aphasia damages a person’s ability to communicate in virtually every single way.

A person suffering from this version of the condition will have trouble speaking, reading and writing.

Their ability to process and understand someone that is speaking to them is damaged as well. 

Doctors can often detect aphasia via either an MRI or CT scan, and will be able to pinpoint the exact part of the brain that is causing the issue.

There is no way to fix or cure the condition entirely, but patients will often undergo speech therapy to help rebuild their language skills. 

‘There’s not a lot of progress [with medication for the condition]… the treatment for aphasia is speech therapy,’ Rapp said.

She noted that in some cases a person may undergo electric stimulation therapy alongside speech therapy in order to ‘get the most’ out of the experience. 

Williamson said that ‘strong family support is a critical piece of living successfully with aphasia.’ 

It is not always permanent, though, and how long it lasts and how severe it is often depends on how bad the damage to the brain is.

Stroke victims in particular that suffer aphasia can regain their speech, and often within only a few weeks. 

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