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Home ยป Wendy Williams Diagnosed With Aphasia And Dementia

Wendy Williams Diagnosed With Aphasia And Dementia

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Wendy Williams hosted a nationally syndicated daytime talk show from 2008 to 2021

US daytime talk show legend Wendy Williams Hunter was diagnosed last year with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), her care team has revealed.

The team said it was sharing the news “to correct inaccurate and hurtful rumours about her health”.

Ms Williams, 59, hosted the popular, nationally syndicated Wendy Williams Show for over a decade.

But it ended in 2022 amid the health struggles she has been facing.

The news of her diagnosis comes a day after a People Magazine cover story, in which relatives said Ms Williams is at a care facility in an unknown location and has been in a shocking health “spiral”.

“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,” her care team wrote in a statement on Thursday.

“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, act erratically at times, and have difficulty understanding financial transactions.”

The team added Ms Williams’ diagnosis was confirmed by “a battery of medical tests” last year.

Aphasia is a nervous system syndrome that affects the ability to communicate, with patients often struggling to express thoughts and even losing their ability to speak or write.

FTD is an incurable brain disorder caused by damage to the left side of the brain that affects language and communication abilities. Its symptoms, which get worse over time, can be managed but there is no treatment that can slow or prevent their progression, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) say.

The rare disease tends to strike people at a younger age than other forms of dementia, with most diagnosed between the ages of 45 and 64 years old.

Ms Williams’ progression mirrors that of Hollywood icon Bruce Willis who was diagnosed in 2022 with aphasia and then FTD last year.

Media caption, Shane Wing says that attending a support group is helping improve his aphasia

In its statement, the New Jersey native’s care team said FTD has “already presented significant hurdles” but Ms Williams “is still able to do many things for herself”.

“Most importantly she maintains her trademark sense of humour and is receiving the care she requires to make sure she is protected and that her needs are addressed,” they wrote.

The talk show host, who turns 60 in July, began her career in radio as a DJ and shock jock in New York.

But she made a name for herself as the host of The Wendy Williams Show from 2008 to 2021. Ms Williams’ hosting style, candid remarks and on-air spats live on as viral moments on the Internet.

Concerns over Ms Williams’ health have swirled for years.

In 2017, she fainted in the middle of a Halloween episode.

A series of guest hosts had to step in 2021 while Ms Williams was out on medical leave to address Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder.

Producers cancelled the show the next year. Ms Williams was placed under a financial guardianship a few months later, after the Wells Fargo bank argued she was “incapacitated”.

The Lifetime network – which has previously aired a documentary titled Wendy Williams: What a Mess – is set to release another two-part documentary called Where is Wendy Williams? this weekend.

The decision to go public was made to advocate for compassion toward their client and to raise awareness for others with the condition, her care team said.

Not all physicians recognise the condition, so FTD patients are often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all, according to the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration.

Stigma and misunderstanding may also result from a patient’s behavioural changes as well,.