Dame Barbara Windsor forgot who her husband Scott Mitchell was “two weeks ago” due to her Alzheimer’s disease.
The former EastEnders star’s spouse Scott, 54, has been caring for his 81-year-old soap star wife following her diagnosis in 2014.
He has revealed that his worst fear became a reality when she had to ask who he was as he helped Barbara dry following a bath.
Although it was just for a moment, Scott – who first notices changes in his wife’s behaviour when she was in her 70s – says it had a profoundly upsetting effect on him.
In an emotional interview on ITV daytime show Loose Women’ he said: “When Barbara first got this diagnosis my big fear was always, ‘What if one day she looks at me and doesn’t know who I am?’ And that kind of haunted me, and two weeks ago, you know, that reality came.
“It was only brief, I was just helping her, she’d got out of the bath and she looked at me and was suddenly apprehensive, her eyes went blank and she went, ‘Sorry, who are you?'”
Scott also opened up on the difficult realities of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and the daily challenges that must be overcome.
On rare occasions, Scott admits he struggles to cope with Barbara’s repetitive questions and becomes “slightly irritated” and he always immediate regrets it, because he loves the ‘Carry On’ legend so much.
He shared with the panel: “I’m learning as I go along is the honest truth. I never know what’s coming next. I’ve learned different techniques of how I handle things.
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“Obviously, the thing I think that most people who have a loved one with this illness will get is the testing, challenging thing of the repetitive nature of it.
“For instance, when you’re sitting there of an evening and maybe the same question comes at you, however many times, let’s see eight to 20 times in one evening, sometimes it’s hard to keep that calmness in your voice, to not show that you’re slightly irritated.
“As much as you love someone, you’re human and you get to that point where you yourself may have had a day – I’ve got my own work to do, I’m thinking about Barbara – occasionally I show it. And I’m always mortified afterwards if I show it.
“I said to [Loose Women panellist] Jane [Moore] in the interview [where I revealed Barbara’s diagnosis] that she won’t remember what I’ve said, but she’ll remember how I’ve made her feel.”
Scott has also revealed he will run the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon to raise awareness and funds for research into Alzheimer’s.
He told the panel some of Barbara’s former EastEnders colleagues have also expressed an interest in taking part.
“I’ve never done anything like this before. We were approached by the Alzheimer’s Society, they’ve been fantastic to offer support,” he said.
“They mentioned the Dementia Revolution was going to be the chosen charity for the Virgin London Marathon, which is absolutely incredible. [They said], ‘Would it be ok for Barbara to be involved and a letter from her to go out to everyone running, and would she send a personal email to all her ex-EastEnders cast to see if anyone would be prepared to do it?’
“We won’t say right now, but there’s been some lovely interest. I’ll be joining them.”
Scott said he was overwhelmed with the public support he’s received since going public with Barbara’s diagnosis earlier this year.
“It’s been amazing. I really want to thank everyone so much because the love and affection that they show her, and understanding as well,” he said.
“Not everyone comes up to her, but when they do she loves it. She walks along the street smiling anyway.”
Loose Women airs weekdays at 12.30pm on ITV.
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