NATIONWIDE — Actor Bruce Willis’s family recently announced that his aphasia has progressed, and that he was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, also known as frontotemporal degeneration (FTD).
FTD is caused by progressive nerve cell loss to the brain’s frontal and temporal lobes. This nerve cell damage can lead to deterioration in behavior, personality and/or difficulty with speaking, writing or comprehending language.
Willis’ transparency is meaningful for millions who are all too familiar with the crushing realities of other forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Dementia is a general term for loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. These losses are severe enough to interfere with daily life.
Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia, but there are other kinds, ranging from FTD to vascular dementia to dementia from a combination of causes.
The signs of dementia can vary, but the Alzheimer’s Association provides the most common areas where people have problems:
Keeping track of a purse or wallet.
Planning and preparing meals.
Traveling out of the neighborhood.
The condition can start slowly and gradually get worse.
If you are worried about yourself or a loved one, the most important thing to do is to see a doctor. The Alzheimer’s Association Hudson Valley Chapter or the Alzheimer’s Association Greater PA Chapter can steer you to doctors who can help.
The following links to Alzheimer’s Association information might also be useful.
Contact your local chapter
Local chapters are a great resource for patients and their families and friends. Learn about upcoming events, and find out what you can do to help.
The Hudson Valley chapter can be found online at www.alz.org/hudsonvalley, on Facebook at ALZHudsonvalley or call 800/272-3900.
The Greater PA chapter can be found online at www.alz.org/pa, on Facebook at AlzGPA or call 800/272-3900.
Annemarie Schuetz contributed to this story.
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