Tallulah Willis is speaking out about her father Bruce Willis’ frontotemporal dementia (FTD) diagnosis. The 29-year-old daughter of Willis and Demi Moore appeared on The Drew Barrymore Show on November 8, where she shared why it felt important for her family to be open about the condition.
“What’s going on with my dad — he has a really aggressive cognitive disease, a form of dementia that’s very rare,” Tallulah told Barrymore. “On one hand, it’s who we are as a family. But also, it’s really important for us to spread awareness about FTD because there’s not enough information out there.”
Tallulah admitted that 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 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 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.
Tallulah Willis is a brave and inspiring young woman. Her openness about her father’s FTD diagnosis is helping to raise awareness of this devastating condition. We wish her and her family all the best.