Heming Willis made an emotional plea in a video shared on her Instagram page over the weekend, saying “there’s still a lot of education that needs to be put forth” about people living with dementia.
Recounting a recent incident in which photographers attempted to speak to the ailing actor as he made a rare public appearance to meet friends for coffee in Santa Monica, the 44-year-old model noted how “difficult and stressful it can be to get someone out into the world and to navigate them safely.”
“This one is going out to the photographers and the video people that are trying to get those exclusives of my husband out and about: Just keep your space,” she said in the clip. “I know this is your job, but maybe just keep your space.”
She added, “For the video people, please don’t be yelling at my husband asking him how he’s doing or whatever — the ‘woohoo’-ing and the ‘yippee ki-yays’… just don’t do it. OK? Give him his space. Allow for our family or whoever’s with him that day to be able to get him from point A to point B safely.”
Heming Willis added in the caption to the video: “To other caregivers or dementia care specialist navigating this world… Any tips or advice on how to get your loved ones out in the world safely? Please share below.”
Heming Willis and Willis, 67, married in 2009 and have two daughters, Mabel and Evelyn.
Her request comes weeks after Willis’ family announced that his speaking disorder, aphasia, had progressed into a form of dementia called frontotemporal dementia, or FTD.
“Today there are no treatments for the disease, a reality that we hope can change in the years ahead. As Bruce’s condition advances, we hope that any media attention can be focused on shining a light on this disease that needs far more awareness and research,” they said last month in an update shared online.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, FTD refers to “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.” These areas of the brain are generally associated with personality, behavior and language.