Wendy Williams Has Frontotemporal Dementia and Aphasia. Here’s What That Means

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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There have been a lot of rumors surrounding Wendy Williams’s health, especially after she took an unexpected hiatus from her iconic talk show, which ended in June 2022 amid her absence. Her care team announced in a press release Thursday that the TV host has frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and aphasia.

“Over the past few years, questions have been raised at times about Wendy’s ability to process information, and many have speculated about Wendy’s condition, particularly when she began to lose words [and] act erratically at times,” the statement said. According to the release, Williams underwent several medical tests in 2023 that confirmed that she had primary progressive aphasia, as well as FTD.

FTD—the same brain disorder that Bruce Willis was diagnosed with last year—is the most common form of dementia for people under 60, as SELF previously reported. Technically speaking, FTD is a group of disorders that cause damage to nerve cells in the brain’s frontal lobes (behind the forehead) and temporal lobes (behind the ears). This can not only affect how a person communicates and understands language but also change their social behavior, sometimes by making them act differently or seem more apathetic. Aphasia is a part of FTD that specifically refers to its language-related difficulties (like understanding speech, expressing oneself, reading, and writing), according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Williams’s conditions have “presented significant hurdles in [her] life,” the statement said, but specifics about her symptoms haven’t been revealed. In a People cover story published on Wednesday about the upcoming documentary Where Is Wendy Williams?, members of her family expressed concerns about her well-being. They said she’s been living under a court-appointed legal guardianship and is in a facility to address her cognitive issues.

The documentary reportedly includes a scene of the TV host asking her driver to take her past her former studio, even though he had done so just moments earlier. “I don’t know what the hell is going on,” he says in the scene. “I think she’s losing memory. She doesn’t know who I am sometimes.”

Even though Williams was diagnosed last year, her care team said they’re publicly sharing the difficult news now in hopes that people will be more compassionate toward the star, as well as to raise awareness about FTD and aphasia. “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,” the statement said. “She is appreciative of the many kind thoughts and good wishes being sent her way.”

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