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Bruce Willis' latest diagnosis brings attention to dementia

Newswatch 16's Emily Kress has more about the signs and symptoms people should look out for.

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — Roughly 50,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia each year. The family of actor Bruce Willis just confirmed that he is one of them.

"I think with someone like a diagnosis like Bruce Willis, who is an icon, someone that we all are familiar with, it brings attention to this type of dementia," said Sara Murphy with the Greater Pennsylvania Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.

Murphy says the announcement of his diagnosis is an opportunity to talk about the signs and symptoms of the disease.

"Frontotemporal dementia impacts people typically in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. There's no real known cause for why someone gets a diagnosis of FTD, but we do know there can be a genetic component."

According to the Alzheimer's Association, frontotemporal dementia is one of several less common forms of dementia. It causes progressive nerve cell damage to the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.

"Some of those warning signs — you might see changes in their ability to communicate, their language skills start to change, in addition to increased agitation, changes in their mood and personality."

If you believe that you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of dementia, the Alzheimer's Association recommends getting checked out by a doctor.

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