Emma Heming Willis is asking paparazzi to keep their distance from her husband, actor Bruce Willis, who was recently diagnosed with a rare type of dementia.
“This one is going out to the photographers and the video people that are trying to get those exclusives of my husband out and about,” Heming Willis said in a video posted to Instagram on Saturday. “Just keep your space.”
Heming Willis, who has been married to the actor since 2009 and shares two daughters with him, said it was important for her husband to be given his space when out in public.
“Please don’t be yelling at my husband, asking him how he’s doing,” she said. “Allow for our family or whoever’s with him that day to be able to get him from Point A to Point B safely.”
Willis’s family announced last month that the 67-year-old had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, or FTD. The announcement came about one year after he retired from acting, citing a communication disorder known as aphasia, which had since progressed. There is no treatment or cure for FTD, which mostly affects people between the ages of 40 and 60.
Heming Willis said that her husband was recently harassed by photographers seeking to capture images of the star as he met with friends for coffee. She credited Willis’s friends for doing a “stand-up job of protecting him” and explained how “stressful and difficult” it can be for loved ones and caregivers to help those with the disease navigate the world.
“Any tips or advice on how to get your loved ones out in the world safely?” Heming Willis asked. In the comments, many hailed her honesty and attempt to raise awareness of the disease.
Neurologists say those with FTD may need additional support with day-to-day activities as the disease progresses. Patients may also require help with physical safety and communication.
Symptoms of FTD can include changes in behavior, speech or movement, experts said. Patients can have aphasia like Willis, which can make them struggle to understand or produce language.
The actor’s family said in February that he faces challenges with communication, among many other symptoms of the disease. “While this is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis,” read the statement issued by Heming Willis, his ex-wife Demi Moore and his five daughters.
The family said the public’s “compassion, understanding, and respect” will help them support Willis in living “as full a life as possible.”