Wendy Williams: Former talk show host diagnosed with aphasia and dementia | Ents & Arts News

Feb 23, 2024 | Entertainment, News

Former talk show host Wendy Williams has been diagnosed with dementia.

A statement released on behalf of her caretakers says the 59-year-old has primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia, the same form of the illness as actor Bruce Willis.

The condition has “already presented significant hurdles in Wendy’s life” and caused behavioural and cognitive impacts, it said

“Wendy is still able to do many things for herself.

“Most importantly, she maintains her trademark sense of humour 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 announcement came a day after a cover story in People magazine quoted her family about the nature of her struggles, ahead of the broadcast of a Lifetime documentary on Saturday.

“The people who love her cannot see her,” the magazine quoted her 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 unrestricted access to Williams.

The article said the documentary crew, which set out in 2022 to cover her comeback, stopped filming in April 2023 when, her manager “and jeweller” 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, according to People.

Her family told the magazine they did not know where she was and could not call her themselves, but that she could 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 behaviour, 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.

FTD usually occurs in people in their 40s, 50s and early 60s.

Read more from Sky News:
Bruce Willis’s wife says it’s ‘hard to know’ if he is aware of his dementia condition

Museum seeks Taylor Swift ‘superfan’ adviser

It can affect a person’s personality, causing a loss of inhibition or inappropriate behaviour. It is sometimes mistaken for depression or bipolar disorder, and can take years to diagnose.

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

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

“We thank Wendy Williams for having the courage to make her diagnosis public and raise awareness of the disease,” association CEO Susan Dickinson said in a statement.

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’s show, was her signature phrase: “How you doin’?”

She moved into 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, her self-titled daytime talk show ended because of her ongoing health issues.

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