Wendy Williams, best known for her 13-season run as a daytime talk show host, has been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia.

The news came via a February 22, 2024, press release following years of public concern surrounding the TV personality’s seemingly worsening health.

The message, which was shared on behalf of her “care team,” was issued in order to “correct inaccurate and hurtful rumors about her health,” per the statement.

What Is Aphasia?

Aphasia is a disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate and understand language, according to the National Institutes of Health.

While aphasia most often occurs suddenly following a stroke or head injury, it can also develop over time in people with brain tumors or progressive neurological diseases.

“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 statement regarding Wendy’s health read.

The message continued that Wendy had been diagnosed with aphasia and dementia in 2023 after “undergoing a battery of medical tests.” The conditions “have already presented significant hurdles in Wendy’s life,” per the release.

What Is Frontotemporal Dementia?

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a general term used to describe diseases that ​impact the brain’s frontal and temporal lobes, according to Mayo Clinic. Symptoms of FTD tend to worsen over time and include personality changes in the affected person, such as erratic and unusual behavior. About 10 to 20 percent of dementia cases are caused by FTD.

Symptoms often begin between the ages of 40 and 65. This is younger than the typical onset of Alzheimer’s disease, which usually appears in people older than 65.

What Is Alcohol-Induced Dementia?

Wendy’s son, Kevin Hunter Jr., revealed that doctors believed her dementia was caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

“[Doctors] basically said that because she was drinking so much, it was starting to affect her headspace and her brain,” Kevin said in an interview for the two-part Lifetime docuseries, Where Is Wendy Williams?, which premiered in February 2024. “So, I think they said it was alcohol-induced dementia.”

Like age-related dementia, alcohol-related dementia is a type of cognitive impairment that impacts a person’s memory, concentration and emotional regulation, per Healthline.

How Common Is Aphasia?

Nearly 180,000 people in the United States develop aphasia per year, with a total of about 1 million patients currently suffering with the condition, according to the NIH. Aphasia is most commonly seen in people older than middle age, although anyone can be diagnosed with it.

What Treatment Is Wendy Williams Receiving for Aphasia?

Wendy is said to be living in a wellness facility that focuses on cognitive treatment. Her sister, Wanda Finnie, told People that they speak “very regularly” and the former host is benefiting from “a wellness, healing type of environment.”

People who have aphasia as a result of head trauma often see improvement in a few months without treatment.

In addition to addressing the underlying cause of aphasia, speech therapy is a common treatment for the disorder, per NIH.

Wendy’s diagnosis allowed her to “receive the medical care she requires,” according to the February 21 press release. The statement noted that despite her worsening health, “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,” the message concluded. “She is appreciative of the many kind thoughts and good wishes being sent her way.”

However, Wendy’s brother, Tommy Williams, wasn’t on board with the treatment Wendy was receiving and claimed that she was “stuck” in the treatment facility.

“We are trying to unstick her. Her family is here and she doesn’t need a facility. We are here to take care of her,” Tommy told Us Weekly on February 27, 2024. “All I want for her is freedom. We have a father who would love to see her.”

Tommy also added that the ongoing situation with Wendy’s conservatorship was “extremely difficult” and said that the family was “dealing with unknowns.” He also claimed that he and the rest of Wendy’s family didn’t know where to go when it comes to visiting her.

“We just want to be able to check in with her. I would fly up there [to New York], but where do I go? No one knows anything,” Tommy continued. “We can’t communicate unless someone patches us through. We wait for calls. I wait for calls from Wendy or my sister or whoever she can get to first and we can all hop on. When she makes that phone call [to us], we’re committed to listening and sharing for the moment.”

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