Bruce Willis’s daughter has revealed how he still recognises her and “lights up” when she enters the room, as loved ones come to terms with his dementia diagnosis.
Tallulah Willis bare the impact the Hollywood actor’s illness has had on her family in an essay for Vogue Magazine.
The 29-year-old said she knew “something was wrong for a long time” before the family announced the Die Hard star was suffering from aphasia – a condition affecting the brain which causes speech and language difficulties – leading to his retirement.
She later learned aphasia was a feature of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) – which “chips away at his cognition and behavior day by day”.
The Pulp Fiction actor – who shares daughters Rumer, Tallulah and Scout with ex-wife Demi Moore – was diagnosed with the progressive neurological disorder in February this year.
Willis wrote the article days after the actor’s wife, model Emma Hemming-Willis, with whom he has two daughters, Mabel, 10, and Evelyn, eight, described the “toll” on her mental health and spoke poignantly about how their time together was precious.
“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,'” Willis wrote.
Later, the unresponsiveness “broadened”, she added.
“He still knows who I am and lights up when I enter the room.
“He may always know who I am, give or take the occasional bad day. One difference between FTD and Alzeimer’s dementia is that, at least early in the disease, the former is characterized by language and motor deficits, while the latter features more memory loss.
“I keep flipping between the present and the past when I talk about Bruce: he is, he was, he is, he was. That’s because I have hopes for my father that I’m so reluctant to let go of.”