Emma Heming Willis, the wife of actor Bruce Willis, has asked the paparazzi to leave him alone in public following his recently announced dementia diagnosis.
In a video posted to Instagram on Sunday, Heming Willis called for photographers to “keep your space” around the 67-year-old actor.
She posted the video to raise awareness about the deteriorative condition and remind the public about the decorum of interacting with a dementia patient.
Heming Willis, 44, said the Pulp Fiction actor was recently approached by paparazzi while out for coffee with friends in Santa Monica, Calif. Though she said Willis’ friends did a “stand-up job” of protecting him, Heming Willis was visibly affected by the paparazzi’s interaction with her husband.
“If you are someone who is looking after someone with dementia, you know how difficult and stressful it can be to get someone out into the world and to navigate them safely, even just to get a cup of coffee,” she said. “It’s clear that there’s still a lot of education that needs to be put forth. So, this one is going out to the photographers and video people that are trying to get those exclusives of my husband out and about.”
Heming Willis acknowledged it was the job of paparazzi to take photos of celebrities, but asked them not to yell at Willis or ask him questions.
“The ‘woo-hooing’ and the ‘yippee ki-yays’ — just don’t do it. Give him the space,” 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. That’s my PSA.”
In the video’s caption, Heming Willis asked other caregivers or dementia care specialists for “advice on how to get your loved ones out in the world safely.”
In February, Willis’ family shared an update that the actor’s aphasia has progressed into frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Comparatively, the condition often strikes younger patients than other forms of dementia. Symptoms include difficulty with speech and movement and gradual memory loss.
Willis retired from acting in March of 2022. At the time, his family said he was “experiencing some health issues … which are impacting his cognitive abilities.”
According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, FTD is an umbrella term for a group of rare disorders that most often affect the parts of the brain associated with personality and behaviour.
Approximately five to 10 per cent of all diagnosed dementia cases are FTD, but the condition accounts for about 20 per cent of all young onset dementia cases diagnosed in people under 65.
Willis and Heming Willis married in 2009. They share two daughters, 10 and eight years old. Willis also has three other daughters with ex-wife Demi Moore.