Wendy Williams diagnosed with dementia and aphasia

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Friday, February 23, 2024
Wendy Williams diagnosed with dementia and aphasia
Darla Miles has more.

Former talk show host Wendy Williams has been diagnosed with dementia and aphasia, she and her medical team said in a statement released Thursday.

Williams has been open in the past about her prolonged health struggles, which included Graves' disease and a thyroid condition.

The 59-year-old former host of "The Wendy Williams Show" was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia in 2023 and those diagnoses have "enabled Wendy to receive the medical care she requires," according to the press release.

"The decision to share this news was difficult and made after careful consideration," the statement said, "not only to advocate for understanding and compassion for Wendy, but to raise awareness about aphasia and frontotemporal dementia and support the thousands of others facing similar circumstances.

Wendy Williams
In this Nov. 7, 2014, file photo, TV talk show host Wendy Williams arrives during the 2014 Soul Train Awards in Las Vegas.
Photo by Omar Vega/Invision/AP, File

"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 National Aphasia Association describes primary progressive aphasia is "a neurological syndrome in which language capabilities become slowly and progressively impaired."

According to the association, unlike other forms of aphasia, primary progressive aphasia does not result from a stroke or brain injury and instead is caused by the "deterioration of brain tissue important for speech and language."

Dementia is an umbrella term that describes "the impaired ability to remember, think or make decisions that interferes with doing everyday activities," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Though dementia mostly affects older adults, the CDC notes that it is "not a part of normal aging" and the organization projects that there will be as many as 14 million people with dementia by 2060.

Actor Bruce Willis' family announced in spring 2022 that the blockbuster actor was diagnosed with aphasia. His family disclosed in February 2023 that he was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia.

Frontotemporal dementia is caused by degeneration of the frontal and/or temporal lobes of the brain, according to the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration. It is the most common form of dementia for people under the age of 60 and there is currently no known cure.

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Emma Heming Willis, the wife of actor Bruce Willis, is opening up about what it's like caring for someone with dementia and mental health.

The upcoming Lifetime documentary "Where Is Wendy Williams?" premieres Feb. 24 and was executive produced by Williams herself.

In an interview with "Good Morning America," her niece, Alex Finnie, said she asked her aunt why she wanted to do the documentary, which would touch on her health struggles, and if it was the right time.

"And she said, 'Now is the perfect time because I wanna take ownership of my story,'" Finnie said.

"Where Is Wendy Williams?" will provide a "raw, honest and unfiltered reality" of Williams' life in recent years, according to Lifetime, and tell "Wendy's journey to resurrect her career, and what filmmakers discovered along the way."

ABC News contributed to this report.