Wendy Williams Diagnosed with Aphasia and Frontotemporal Dementia

Wendy Williams has been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

The former talk show host, 59, was diagnosed last year, with her medical care team noting that the conditions have already posed significant challenges in her life.

“Unfortunately, many individuals diagnosed with aphasia and frontotemporal dementia face stigma and misunderstanding, particularly when they begin to exhibit behavioral changes but have not yet received a diagnosis,” her team said in a statement on Thursday.

“…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. She is appreciative of the many kind thoughts and good wishes being sent her way.”

Former daytime talk show host Wendy Williams has been diagnosed with aphasia and frontotemporal dementia. Credit: supplied.
Former daytime talk show host Wendy Williams has been diagnosed with aphasia and frontotemporal dementia. Credit: supplied.

Aphasia, as described by the Aphasia Institute, is a communication disorder that often stems from a stroke, brain injury, or other neurological conditions such as dementia or brain tumours. It can mask a person’s inherent competence, presenting as an ‘invisible’ disability.

FTD, on the other hand, encompasses a range of brain disorders affecting the frontal and temporal lobes. Symptoms include speech issues, emotional changes, and personality alterations, with additional manifestations like motor skill loss over time.

Typically surfacing between ages 40 and 65, FTD is the most prevalent form of dementia among individuals under 60.

Williams has been undergoing treatment at Weill Cornell Medicine following her diagnosis. Notably, Bruce Willis was diagnosed with FTD last year, having previously been diagnosed with aphasia in 2022.

Williams, who has also grappled with Graves’ disease, lymphedema, and alcohol abuse, entered a facility in April 2023 for treatment of “cognitive issues” and has since been appointed a court-appointed legal guardian.

Since May 2022, Williams has been under a legal guardianship responsible for managing her finances and health. Over the last 10 months, she has been receiving treatment for cognitive issues at an undisclosed facility.

When Williams was appointed a guardian, her family was kept in the dark about the decision and court papers have been sealed, leaving many questions unanswered.

Williams’ sister Wanda Finnie told People her immediate family members do not have unrestricted access to her.

“How did she go from this aunt or sister that we love and is healthy one minute to this person who’s in and out of the hospital?” Finnie said.

“How is that system better than the system the family could put in place? I don’t know. I do know that this system is broken. I hope that at some point, Wendy becomes strong enough where she can speak on her own behalf.”

In January 2022, Wells Fargo asked a New York court to help Williams manage her money temporarily by placing her under a temporary financial guardianship, because they were concerned that she might be taken advantage of due to cognitive issues.

Williams shares a 23-year-old son Kevin Hunter Jr. with ex-husband Kevin Hunter.

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