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The struggle of Northeast Ohio dementia patients and their families after the Bruce Willis diagnosis

A photo of multiple images of the brain from an MRI scan.
Multiple images of the brain from an MRI scan.

Bruce Willis has a form of dementia known as FTD, frontotemporal dementia. His family made the announcement earlier this month.

FTD is characterized by changes in personality and behavior. It also can include problems with speaking and understanding language. Willis’ diagnosis came about a year after his family announced his retirement from acting due to aphasia, or the loss of the ability to express or understand speech.

Willis' family members are not alone in their caretaking journey.

Columbia University released a national study last year that put the number of adults 65 and older living with dementia at 10%. The study also found that 22% of that population has mild cognitive impairment.

The World Health Organization defines dementia as an umbrella term that applies to several diseases, including Alzheimer's, that affect memory and other cognitive abilities and interfere with a person’s ability to maintain their daily lives,

We are going to discuss dementia and what the landscape looks like for those who have dementia and their caretakers. And we'll learn more about FTD, the type of dementia Willis was diagnosed with.

Later in the hour, we'll discuss a new podcast being launched by Ideastream Public Media with the help of Evergreen.

In 2020, Bloomberg CityLab reported on research conducted in Pittsburgh that looked at a number of factors, including health, education and economic outcomes, affecting Black women.

CityLab, a national publication, reported on the research and used it to create a ranking of cities. Cleveland was dead last, the worst city in the nation for livability for Black women.

We talked about the topic on Sound of Ideas then. But others who heard that data wanted to do something about it and make Cleveland a better place for Black women and girls. That’s where the "Living for We" podcast begins.

-Cheryl Kanetsky, Interim Executive Director, Cleveland Area and Greater East Ohio Chapters, Alzheimer's Association
-Marlene Harris-Taylor, Director, Engaged Journalism, Ideastream Public Media, Podcast Host

Leigh Barr is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable."