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Wendy Williams Diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia

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Wendy Williams has been diagnosed with aphasia and frontotemporal dementia, according to statement the former talk show host’s care team released today.

The diagnosis came in 2023 following a “battery of medical tests,” the statement explains, and both conditions have already “presented significant hurdles in Wendy’s life,” though Williams “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,” her team wrote.


Both Frontotemporal dementia (also known as FTD) and aphasia have been in the news over the last few years, as Bruce Willis has also been diagnosed with both conditions. FTD occurs when portions of the front and temporal lobes of the brain — which are associated with personality, behavior, and language — begin to shrink, according to Mayo Clinic. People with FTD may experience personality changes, struggle to use language, or develop motor-related issues like tremors, muscle spasms, or poor coordination.

Aphasia, meanwhile, occurs when someone struggles with speaking, understanding, reading, or writing. Willis stepped away from acting in March 2022 due to aphasia, his family said at the time, and in 2023 they shared the actor’s diagnosis of FTD in an effort to raise awareness of this “debilitating disease and how it impacts so many individuals and their families,” they wrote.

The news of Williams’ diagnoses come as her Lifetime documentary, Where Is Wendy Williams?, is set to release on February 24, with much of it seemingly focused on the 59-year-old entertainer’s health. Public concerns about Williams’ wellbeing date back to 2017, when she fainted on live TV during an episode of her talk show. She’s also struggled with substance abuse, lymphedema (swelling in her legs), and Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder. Williams entered a facility to treat “cognitive issues” in April 2023, according to People, and her health and finances are now controlled by an independent legal guardian.


Her team released the news of Williams’ FTD and aphasia diagnoses “to correct inaccurate and hurtful rumors about her health.” Over the past few years, they explained in the statement, “questions have been raised at times about Wendy’s ability to process information and many have speculated about Wendy’s condition, particularly when she began to lose words, act erratically at times, and have difficulty understanding financial transactions.”

In making the news public, Williams and her team hope to not only “advocate for understanding and compassion” for Williams herself, but also to “raise awareness about aphasia and frontotemporal dementia and support the thousands of others facing similar circumstances,” many of whom “face stigma and misunderstanding.”

Bruce Willis’ wife, Emma Heming Willis, has also spoken out about the stigma surrounding FTD and dementia in general. Talking to Today last year about raising her and Willis’ two daughters, Heming Willis said, “It was important that we let them know what [the disease] is because I don’t want there to be any stigma or shame attached to their dad’s diagnosis or for any form of dementia.”

Williams’ team specifically noted the stigma that patients like Williams might experience when “they begin to exhibit behavioral changes but have not yet received a diagnosis,” a time made more painful by how difficult it is to diagnose FTD. According to the Association for Frontotemporal Dementia, it takes an average of 3.6 years for patients to get diagnosed with FTD because the condition shares so many symptoms with diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

FTD is recognized as the most common form of dementia for people under age 60, and there is currently no treatment or cure for the disease, per Mayo Clinic, though some symptoms can be treated with medication and speech therapy.

Williams’ team also drew attention to the importance of diagnosis, which they said “has enabled Wendy to receive the medical care she requires… She is appreciative of the many kind thoughts and good wishes being sent her way.”

Before you go, read about other stars who have opened up about their health to confront stigma:

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