According to documents filed in Nichols’ conservatorship, the Nyota Uhura actress has “moderate progressive dementia,” reports Nichols’ Geriatrician, Dr. Meena Makhijani.
In her report, Makhijani says the 85-year-old Nichols has suffered “major impairment of her short-term memory and moderate impairment of understanding abstract concepts, sense of time, place and immediate recall,” per TMZ.
The site adds Makhijani reported no evidence of apparent impairment for long-term memory, comprehension and verbal communication, or Nichols’ ability to reason logically and recognize familiar people.
TMZ reported in May Nichols’ son, Kyle Johnson, said his mother was suffering from dementia and had fallen victim to certain individuals who had “unduly exerted themselves into Ms. Nichols' life to her detriment.”
Because Nichols’ dementia “[impacts] her executive functioning,” Johnson appointed four fiduciaries to act as Nichols’ conservators, giving them control of Nichols’ finances and health-related decisions.
Nichols has endured as a pop culture icon and famously shared American TV’s first interracial kiss with Star Trek co-star William Shatner. In December, she shared her sentiments on the future of the ongoing Star Trek franchise with the Los Angeles Times, saying the series is “always going to be a window into what lies ahead of us.”
“I’m happy to see another generation of actors and actresses leading the charge. And now there are so many fans being a part of it. If it weren’t for the fans, there’d be nothing to do,” she said.
Nichols paved the path for future series stars Zoe Saldana — who played Uhura in the rebooted Star Trek trilogy launched in 2009 — and Sonequa Martin-Green, who headlines Star Trek: Discovery as First Officer Michael Burnham, the first black woman to act as lead in a Star Trek series.
Speaking to ComicBook.com during a convention appearance in September, the actress praised Saldana’s work as a modern Uhura and proudly recounted her role in recruiting women and minorities for NASA.
“They hired me to recruit the first woman and minority [for the space shuttle program],” Nichols said. “They had heard me say ‘There are no minorities; I know dozens [who would be able to serve],’ and they said, ‘Find me one who will fit this criteria and we will hire a dozen.’ And I’ll be darned if they didn’t have to hire a dozen. They wrote me after that and said, ‘We thank you very much, you were right, we’re carrying on with everybody; if they’re qualified, they’re with us.'”
Nichols has continued to appear in movies and TV, with Unbelievable!!!!!! and American Nightmares scheduled for release this year.