Bruce Willis’ Family Thought His Early Signs of Dementia Were ‘Hollywood Hearing Loss’, Daughter Says: ‘This Is the Beginning of Grief’

Tallulah Willis, daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, has penned an emotional essay for Vogue in which she recounts her family coming to terms with Bruce’s dementia. The actor’s family announced in March 2022 that Willis has aphasia diagnosis, a language disorder caused by brain damage that affects a person’s ability to communicate, and would be retiring from acting as a result. In February, the family confirmed that Bruce’s aphasia was the result of frontotemporal dementia. Tallulah writes that her family is in the “beginning of grief” due to Bruce’s condition.

“I’ve known that something was wrong for a long time,” Tallulah writes. “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.’ Later that unresponsiveness broadened, and I sometimes took it personally.”

Tallulah admits that when she didn’t know her father’s behavior was the early stages of dementia, she thought that he was “losing interest” in her as he got married to Emma Heming Willis and had two new children.

“I admit that I have met Bruce’s decline in recent years with a share of avoidance and denial that I’m not proud of [but] the truth is that I was too sick myself to handle it,” she adds, recalling her own struggle with body dysmorphia. “I remember a moment when it hit me painfully: I was at a wedding… and 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.”

Tallulah later writes that she’s remaining grateful for every moment she gets to spend with Bruce from here on out.

“Every time I go to my dad’s house, I take tons of photos searching for treasure in stuff that I never used to pay much attention to,” she said. “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. He still knows who I am and lights up when I enter the room.”

“And now that I’m feeling better I ask myself, ‘How I can make him more comfortable?’” she adds. “It feels like a unique and special time in my family, and I’m just so glad to be here for it.”

Emma Heming Willis has asked paparazzi to stop taking photos of Bruce, as the constant flash of bulbs can be extra disorienting for those with dementia. Bruce recently got support from his former co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who reflected on Bruce’s retirement by telling press, “I think that he’s fantastic. He was, always for years and years, is a huge, huge star. And I think that he will always be remembered as a great, great star. And a kind man. I understand that under his circumstances, health-wise, that he had to retire. But in general, you know, we never really retire. Action heroes, they reload.”

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