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Wendy Williams, 59, diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia and aphasia

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Wendy Williams, 59, diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia and aphasia

Former talk show host Wendy Williams, 59, has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia and aphasia, according to a statement released Thursday by her medical team. Williams was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia in 2023 and those diagnoses have “enabled Wendy to receive the medical care she requires,” according to the press release.

The press release explained that the former host of the “Wendy Williams Show” underwent a battery of tests in 2023 after her memory started to fail and she began to “lose words” and “act erratically.” The statement read: “As Wendy’s fans are aware, in the past she has been open with the public about her medical struggles with Graves’ Disease and Lymphedema as well as other significant challenges related to her health. The decision to share this news was difficult and made after careful consideration, not only to advocate for understanding and compassion for Wendy, but to raise awareness about aphasia and frontotemporal dementia and support the thousands of others facing similar circumstances. 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.”

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a group of disorders that occur when nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain are lost. FTD can affect behavior, personality, language and movement. The National Aphasia Association describes primary progressive aphasia is “a neurological syndrome in which language capabilities become slowly and progressively impaired.” Unlike other forms of aphasia, primary progressive aphasia does not result from a stroke or brain injury and instead is caused by the “deterioration of brain tissue important for speech and language.” And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dementia is an umbrella term that describes “the impaired ability to remember, think or make decisions that interferes with doing everyday activities.”

The disclosure of Williams diagnosis comes ahead of the release of Lifetime’s documentary “Where Is Wendy Williams?” The two-part documentary, filmed over the course of two years and executive produced by Williams, dives into her declining health and alcoholism, all of which contributed to her being placed under a court-ordered guardianship in 2022. Williams’ health issues first came to light after she collapsed on-air during her daytime talk show’s Halloween episode in 2017. At the time, she attributed the incident to her Graves’ disease diagnosis, but not long after she revealed she was living in a sober house to treat her alcoholism. Williams seemed to relapse numerous time, and checked in and out of rehab throughout 2022 and 2023.

Editorial credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

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