Bruce Willis: A woman's diagnosis of dementia gives her hope

Wendy Burton and Ian Burton

The wife of a man who shares Bruce Willis' form of dementia expressed her hope that the celebrity's case would increase public understanding of the condition.

Following a change in his behavior, Wendy Burton's husband Ian was given a frontotemporal dementia (FTD) diagnosis in 2014.

Language and personality are impacted by FTD, which is brought on by a progressive loss of nerve cells in the brain.

Willis, 67, had already retired from acting after receiving an aphasia diagnosis.

Mrs. Burton claimed that in 2013, when his behavior started to change, she first realized something was wrong with her husband of 36 years.

We didn't believe he was ill; instead, she claimed, "I actually believed my marriage was crumbling because he seemed to ruin everything we were trying to do.".

"He was having trouble at work because he couldn't comprehend empathy and plan anything. It was a total personality shift.

"We just weren't able to figure out what was happening. " .

Ian Burton with his family
As Mr. Burton's condition worsens, his family is spending as much time as they can with him.

The couple was also aware of Mr. Burton's issues at the Derbyshire Police, where he provided technical support.

When doctors suggested he may have a brain tumor, the issues got so bad that the force encouraged him to get an occupational health checkup.

We both know that something is wrong, and maybe this will serve as a catalyst to help us find out what, said Mrs. Burton.

"The MRI scan made it crystal clear that he had FTD. Around the brain, there was a significant amount of shrinkage. ".

Mrs. Burton reports that as Mr. Burton's health declines, their three children and two grandchildren spend as much time as they can with the couple.

Actor Bruce Willis
Frontotemporal dementia has been identified in 67-year-old actor Bruce Willis.

Bruce Willis's family announced on Friday that he had been given a FTD diagnosis.

He had been given a more specific diagnosis after progressing from his initial aphasia diagnosis, which causes speech difficulties, last year, according to his family.

The frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which are located behind the forehead and ears, accumulate toxic proteins that are thought to kill brain cells and are the cause of frontotemporal dementia.

Damage to these areas affects behavior and the capacity to plan, as well as language (such as Willis' aphasia).

According to James Gallagher, a health and science correspondent for the BBC, frontotemporal dementia patients typically live eight to ten years after their diagnosis, though some continue to function for much longer.

Ian Burton with his family
The Burton family wants to spread awareness of the illness.

Mrs. Burton, who is currently employed by Making Space in Derby as a dementia adviser, expressed her hope that Willis's case would bring attention to the condition.

It's a sad misfortune that someone has this illness, but if a high-profile person can spread the word and help people realize that dementia is a symptom of Alzheimer's, that would be helpful, she said.

"Doctors can treat some of the symptoms, but FTD itself is still incurable.

It's challenging because we already know that things are going south. We simply need to make the most of the time we have left with him by trying to enjoy it.

. "

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