Wendy Williams Diagnosed With Frontotemporal Dementia

By   |  February 23, 2024

By Ernie Mundell HealthDay Reporter  |  Copyright © 2024 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

THURSDAY, Feb. 22, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Former talk show host Wendy Williams has been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia, her representatives announced in a statement on Thursday.

The conditions are the same diagnoses actor Bruce Willis received in 2022; his aphasia later progressed to frontotemporal dementia.

Williams' team said the 59-year-old's decision to reveal her diagnoses was "difficult and made after careful consideration." Williams is receiving treatment and is still able to "do many things for herself," they added.

Primary progressive aphasia is a nervous system disorder that brings a gradually increasing inability to communicate, the Cleveland Clinic explained.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, frontotemporal dementia is "a group of disorders caused by progressive nerve cell loss in the brain's frontal lobes [the areas behind your forehead] or its temporal lobes [the regions behind your ears]."

It is a progressive, debilitating neurological condition for which there is no effective treatment, the association said. The illness can also affect speech, language comprehension and movement. Behavioral changes are common. Unlike Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal dementia is typically diagnosed at a younger age, often in a person's 40s or 50s.

Williams was diagnosed in 2023 after a series of medical tests, her team said. Aphasia and frontotemporal dementia have already "presented significant hurdles in Wendy’s life," they said.

"Wendy would not have received confirmation of these diagnoses were it not for the diligence of her current care team, who she chose, and the extraordinary work of the specialists at Weill Cornell Medicine," Williams' team said. "Receiving a diagnosis has enabled Wendy to receive the medical care she requires."

These diagnoses are not the only health challenges Williams has had to face. As reported by NBC News, she has been open in the past about her battles with Graves' disease (a thyroid condition) and lymphedema.

Health struggles like those were a factor in ending "The Wendy Williams Show" in 2022.

Despite her diagnoses, Williams "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 representatives said. "She is appreciative of the many kind thoughts and good wishes being sent her way."

A two-part documentary on William's health battles, “Where is Wendy Williams?,” airs on Lifetime on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25.

More information

Find out more about frontotemporal dementia at the Mayo Clinic.