Bruce Willis' Aphasia Has 'Been Hard' for Wife Emma: 'Not Easy Seeing a Spouse Decline' (Source)

A source tells PEOPLE Bruce Willis' wife Emma "has to keep it together for" their daughters Evelyn, 7, and Mabel, 10, amid his aphasia diagnosis

Emma Heming Willis is sticking by husband Bruce Willis' side.

After she and the rest of the 67-year-old actor's family revealed this week that he has aphasia and would be retiring from acting, a source tells PEOPLE that the diagnosis has "been hard for" Emma, 43, as "it's not easy seeing a spouse decline."

"Their girls are still so young too," the insider adds of the couple's daughters Evelyn, 7, and Mabel, 10. "Emma has to keep it together for them."

The source tells PEOPLE Emma "is working with several professionals to help" her husband, and "has arranged for him to see the best doctors."

"He has an assistant at home to make sure that he is safe, but Emma takes care of him too," the insider adds. "Because Bruce is older than Emma, they knew that his health might decline sooner than hers. Still, his diagnosis has been shocking for her."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human-interest stories.

Willis' family shared the news of his diagnosis and subsequent retirement on Instagram Wednesday, writing alongside a photo of him on Instagram, "To Bruce's amazing supporters, as a family we wanted to share that our beloved Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and has recently been diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting his cognitive abilities."

Bruce Willis and wife Emma Heming
Bruce and Emma Heming Willis in 2019. Theo Wargo/Getty

"As a result of this and with much consideration Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him," the caption added.

According to Mayo Clinic, aphasia "is a condition that robs you of the ability to communicate. It can affect your ability to speak, write and understand language, both verbal and written."

The group adds that the condition "typically occurs suddenly after a stroke or a head injury. But it can also come on gradually from a slow-growing brain tumor or a disease that causes progressive, permanent damage (degenerative)."

Willis' family's Instagram posts went on to say that it "is a really challenging time" for them all, "and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support."

"We are moving through this as a strong family unit, and wanted to bring his fans in because we know how much he means to you, as you do to him. As Bruce always says, 'Live it up' and together we plan to do just that," they concluded, signing the note from the actor's daughters Rumer Willis, Scout Willis, Tallulah Willis, Mabel and Evelyn, plus Bruce's wife Emma and ex-wife Demi Moore.

On Thursday evening, Emma posted a message for family, friends and fans, thanking them for sharing support as they rally around her.

"Your love, support, compassion, prayers really help. I'm grateful," the model wrote in a post on her Instagram Story. "Thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Updated by
Jen Juneau

Jen Juneau is a digital news writer for PEOPLE. A '90s teen and horror film connoisseur, she started at the brand in 2016, after a decade of working as a technical writer and then moonlighting as a journalist beginning in 2013. Originally from New Orleans, Jen grew up both in NOLA and Florida and eventually attended the University of Central Florida in Orlando (still her home base!), where she earned a bachelor's in English/technical communication, with a minor in magazine journalism.

Related Articles