Bruce Willis' daughter shares the signs that spot 'something was wrong' before dementia diagnosis

Bruce Willis and daughter Tallulah
Bruce Willis with his daughter, Tallulah, who has shared some of the symptoms his family spotted early on. Credit: PA Media

Bruce Willis' daughter has written about the signs the actor's family noticed early on, before he was diagnosed with dementia.

Tallulah Willis wrote in Vogue that she had “known that something was wrong for a long time.”

The star's family announced that he was suffering from aphasia, a condition that impacts speech, in 2022.

Aphasia is a progressive neurological disorder, and a follow up diagnosis this year uncovered the Die Hard star was suffering with frontotemporal dementia.

“It started out with a vague unresponsiveness, which the family chalked up to hearing loss," Tallulah Willis wrote.

She recalled how the family would tell Willis to “speak up!” - joking that his time working on the film Die Hard must have “messed with dad’s ears”.

What is Frontotemporal dementia?

According to the NHS, frontotemporal dementia is an uncommon type of dementia that causes problems with behaviour and language.

It mostly affects people over 65, with the majority of cases diagnosed in people aged 45-65.

  • Symptoms of frontotemporal dementia include:

  • Personality and behaviour changes

  • Speech problems

  • Difficulties with focus

  • Problems remembering

This may also be accompanied by physical problems including slow or stiff movements, bladder and bowel issues, muscle weakness or difficulty swallowing.

Tallulah described how as Willis' unresponsiveness worsened, it was something she took personally.

“He had two other babies with my stepmother, Emma Heming Willis, and I thought he’d lost interest in me,” she wrote.

“Though this couldn’t have been further from the truth, my adolescent brain tortured itself with some faulty match: I’m not beautiful enough for my mother, I’m not interesting enough for my father.”

Tallulah said she struggled to accept her father’s condition in recent years stating she met his decline with “a share of avoidance and denial,” which she puts down to her own health challenges.

“For the last four years, I have suffered from anorexia nervosa, which I’ve been reluctant to talk about.”

She recalled the moment when coming to terms with her father’s illness hit her painfully: “I was at a wedding in the summer of 2021.

“The bride’s father made a moving speech.

“Suddenly I realised that I would never get that moment, my dad speaking about me in adulthood at my wedding.

“It was devastating.”

She said taking photos whenever she visits her father is helping her document and remember the time she still has with him.

“Every time I go to my dad’s house, I take tons of photos—of whatever I see, the state of things.

“I’m like an archaeologist, searching for treasure in stuff that I never used to pay much attention to.

“I have every voicemail from him saved on a hard drive.

“I find that I’m trying to document, to build a record for the day when he isn’t there to remind me of him and of us.”

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