Famous People in the US Who Suffered Dementia

Author Shirley Amy
November 12, 2019

Celebrities are known for “carrying on with the show,” no matter what. – But behind their public display, and in the case of actors and singers, behind the facade of glitz and glamour, they suffer just like everyone else. Yet, when it comes to a profound affliction such as dementia, some feel they have to keep their diagnosis a secret, due to the stigma associated with mental health issues. – They continue on regardless, right up until they can no longer get away with it. So let us take a look at some of the famous people who fought, or are still fighting, the dementia battle.


Robin Williams

This much loved actor and comedian, left the planet long before he should have, and sadly, Lewy body dementia is likely to have factored into his untimely passing. According the the UK Alzheimer’s society: “Lewy Bodies are tiny deposits of a protein that appear in nerve cells in the brain. Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) may account for 10-15% of all cases of dementia. DLB can be diagnosed wrongly, and is often mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease”. At the present time, research is somewhat limited, however, it is associated with two elements: 1. “low levels of important chemicals (mainly acetylcholine and dopamine) that carry messages between nerve cells; and 2. a loss of connections between nerve cells, which then die.

The publication, Scientific American, states that the actor was told he had Parkinson’s disease, several months before his death. However, it was only after an autopsy, that William’s Lewy body dementia was discovered. Susan Williams, his widow, had an editorial about her husband’s mental health battle, published in the journal, Neurology .

British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher

Once known as the “Iron Lady,” this former head of the United Kingdom, who passed away in 2013, was confronted with dementia in the later part of her life. Carol, her journalist daughter, penned a autobiography about her personal experience watching one of the world’s most famous leaders, battle dementia. She remarked: “I almost fell off my chair. Watching her struggle with her words and her memory, I couldn’t believe it. She was in her 75th year, but I had always thought of her as ageless, timeless and 100% cast-iron damage-proof”.

David Cassidy

Cassidy, the incredible singer and songwriter, who shot to super stardom on The Partridge Family; was, and still is, adored by countless millions all over the world. He told People Magazine in 2017, that he had been fighting dementia, saying: “I want to focus on what I am, who I am, and how I am. I want to love. I want to enjoy life”. Prior to this, he had received a lot of unfair criticism prior to that time, as no one knew about his condition, which has a terrible effect on his work, and made reliant on alcohol, which he used as an escape from the horror he faced.

Norman Rockwell

This revered 20th century American painter, is loved for his picturesque versions of the US. Yet, his struggles with his own life, were far from ideal. During his mid-eighties, he suffered periods of dementia, in which he did not paint. In fact, The New York Times recalls: “he still was wheeled into the studio every day to listen to classical music, wash his brushes, arrange his stuff, putter around, do everything but paint”. This very upsetting scenario will strike a cord with many carers…

Author Shirley Amy

Shirley Amy is a Holistic Health Specialist and professional writer who's published 4 books. Her interests include optimum wellness, mental health, fitness, and positive lifestyle change. She holds University and College qualifications in the fields of Health Science, Nutrition, Mental Health, Fitness, Holistic Therapy and Aromatherapy.

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