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Wendy Williams has same form of dementia as Bruce Willis

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  • EVAN AGOSTINI/INVISION/ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Wendy Williams attends the world premiere of Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show,” in October 2019, in New York. The former talk show host has been diagnosed with the same form of dementia that actor Bruce Willis has, according to a statement released, today, on behalf of her caretakers.

    EVAN AGOSTINI/INVISION/ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Wendy Williams attends the world premiere of Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show,” in October 2019, in New York. The former talk show host has been diagnosed with the same form of dementia that actor Bruce Willis has, according to a statement released, today, on behalf of her caretakers.

LOS ANGELES >> Former talk show host Wendy Williams has been diagnosed with the same form of dementia that actor Bruce Willis has, a statement released today on behalf of her caretakers says.

The statement said the 59-year-old’s diagnoses of primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia “have already presented significant hurdles in Wendy’s life” and have behavioral and cognitive impacts.

“Wendy is still able to do many things for herself. Most importantly she maintains her trademark sense of humor and is receiving the care she requires to make sure she is protected and that her needs are addressed. She is appreciative of the many kind thoughts and good wishes being sent her way,” the statement attributed to her care team said.

The statement on Williams’ health was issued on PR Newswire. A representative listed on the release, Jennifer Hanley, referred questions back to the statement when contacted by The Associated Press.

The announcement came a day after a cover story in People magazine quoted Williams’ family about the nature of her struggles, ahead of a Lifetime documentary set to air Saturday.

“The people who love her cannot see her,” People quoted Williams’ sister Wanda as saying. “I think the big (question) is: How the hell did we get here?” The family said a court-appointed legal guardian was the only person with unfettered access to Williams.

The article said the Lifetime documentary crew, which set out in 2022 to chronicle Williams’ comeback, stopped filming in April 2023 when, her manager “and jeweler” Will Selby says in footage for the film, she entered a facility to treat “cognitive issues.” Her son says in the documentary that doctors had connected her cognitive issues to alcohol use, People reported.

Her family told People they don’t know where she is and cannot call her themselves, but she can call them.

The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration describes FTD as a group of brain disorders caused by degeneration of the frontal and/or temporal lobes of the brain that affects behavior, language and movement. Aphasia, a brain disorder that can lead to problems speaking or understanding words, can be a symptom of it. The association describes frontotemporal degeneration as “an inevitable decline in functioning,” with an average life expectancy of seven to 13 years after the onset of symptoms.

The association was involved in the disclosure of Willis’ diagnosis in February 2023, hosting a statement posted by the actor’s family.

There are no treatments to slow or stop the disease, but some interventions can help manage symptoms.

FTD usually occurs in people in their 40s, 50s and early 60s. It can affect a person’s personality, causing a loss of inhibition or inappropriate behavior. It is sometimes mistaken for depression or bipolar disorder, and can take years to diagnose.

Today’s statement credited Weill Cornell Medicine in New York with the care and expertise Williams received. Weill Cornell declined comment.

Williams rose to fame in part due to her no-boundaries approach to her life, which included sharing personal details about her health, plastic surgery and cocaine addiction — the subject of her 2003 memoir, “Wendy’s Got the Heat.”

A hallmark of “The Wendy Williams Show,” which competed for viewers with Ellen DeGeneres’ show, was her signature phrase, “How you doin’?” She transitioned to television after a successful career as a radio host, known for her hot takes on gossip and skewering of celebrities, including a contentious 2003 interview with Whitney Houston.

In 2022, Williams’ self-titled daytime talk show ended because of her ongoing health issues. Sherri Shepherd, who filled in for Williams as a guest host, received her own show.

Williams said in 2018 that she had been diagnosed years before with Graves’ disease, which leads to the overproduction of thyroid hormones and can cause wide-ranging symptoms and affect overall health.

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