Dame Barbara Windsor’s husband has revealed the 82-year-old actress may soon have to move to a care home due to her Alzheimer’s.
In an ITV interview, Scott Mitchell told her friend and EastEnders son Ross Kemp he was given a “stark warning from her specialist”.
“At some point it may not be sustainable to give her the kind of care she needs at the house”, Mitchell said.
Dame Barbara was diagnosed in 2014.
Mitchell told Kemp that his wife moving to a care home is “the thing I’ve always feared” and he’s had “some fairly dark moments” since he was told she may have to leave their home to get more care.
Dame Barbara did not appear in the programme, which will be broadcast on Thursday night, because of her condition.
Mitchell said he was scared of giving his wife coronavirus, and said he got some sort of “virus” shortly after lockdown in March.
“I didn’t have the cough but I had every other symptom. I was not well. My biggest fear at that point was that I was going to give it Barbara,” he said.
“Now that we’re where we are, which is six years after diagnosis, it’s a very common thing for me to sit with Barbara at night, firstly her never having a clue that we are actually in our own home.
“She looks around suddenly and says, ‘Why are there pictures of me in this house?'”
Mitchell and Dame Barbara, who got married in 2000, are ambassadors for the Alzheimer’s Society and last year they presented Prime Minister Boris Johnson with a petition highlighting concerns over dementia care.
The news about her condition comes as BBC broadcaster Lauren Laverne and music producer Naughty Boy are helping to launch a radio station for people living with dementia and their carers.
It will be a 24-hour, non-commercial station, called m4d Radio (short for Music For Dementia), playing songs from the 30s to the 70s and it hoped the lack of adverts will “maximise the holistic benefit of the music”.
The station will include themed shows and era-specific stations.
Laverne and Naughty Boy are joining stars such as ex-Strictly judge Arlene Phillips, broadcaster Fiona Phillips and CBBC’s Sam and Mark in the #Song4You challenge, dedicating a song to someone affected by dementia.
Laverne dedicated The Beatles’ In My Life to her local Singing For The Brain workshop, a group of people all affected by dementia.
She said: “We all instinctively know how music can help connect us to others, but for people living with dementia, music provides a lifeline.
“When words fail, music has the power to reach people emotionally and in many cases trigger memories.
“m4d Radio is a vital resource that aims to stop those living with dementia feeling isolated, especially during these unprecedented times and this is a simple way that everyone can help.”
Fiona Phillips dedicated Patsy Cline’s Crazy to her late father Neville, a song they loved to dance to together, adding: “I know first-hand how devastating dementia can be and how alleviating symptoms – even for a few moments – can make the world of difference to a person’s quality of life.”
Grace Meadows, programme director at Music For Dementia 2020, said: “Music is a wonderful connector and has the ability to bring people together in the here and now.”
Globally about 50 million people are currently living with dementia – but cases are predicted to soar to 130 million by 2050 as populations age.
Is dementia the same as Alzheimer’s?
No – dementia is a symptom found in many diseases of the brain.
Memory loss is the most common feature of dementia, particularly the struggle to remember recent events.
Other symptoms can include changes to behaviour, mood and personality, becoming lost in familiar places or being unable to find the right word in a conversation.
It can reach the point where people don’t know they need to eat or drink.
Alzheimer’s disease is by far the most common of the diseases that cause dementia.
Others include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, fronto-temporal dementia, Parkinson’s disease dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and the newly discovered Late.
Ross Kemp: Living With Dementia is on ITV on Thursday 18 June at 19:30 BST.