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For fans of Dame Barbara Windsor, watching the iconic actor’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease from afar has been difficult.
But her husband Scott Mitchell has confessed he feels like he’s lost his wife – after making the agonising decision to move her into a care home.
Scott, 57, was forced to bring in carers for Barbara, 83, during lockdown as her condition got worse and, at an appointment with a specialist, he was told his wife would soon need full-time care from professionals. But, after making the heartbreaking move, Scott has confessed their home feels empty without the former EastEnders star.
He said, ‘I have been used to hustle and bustle in this little space, then suddenly, silence… All you can hear are your thoughts, and that’s not always healthy.
‘I feel I’m on an emotional roller coaster. I walk around, trying to keep busy, then burst into tears. It feels like a bereavement.’ Shortly after his appointment with the specialist, Scott spoke to Ross Kemp – who played Barbara’s on-screen son Grant Mitchell in EastEnders – for the documentary Living with Dementia, and confessed that hearing the news was his biggest fear.
He said, ‘It’s the thing I’ve always feared. He’s basically telling me I need to prepare myself that, at some point, it may not be sustainable to give her the kind of care she needs at the house.
‘I’ve had some fairly dark moments since he said that, because there’s a part of me that knows that most likely is the truth, and that’s what needs to happen. There’s another part of me which can’t imagine letting her go.’
Scott, who has been married to Barbara for 20 years, revealed the Carry On star has struggled to settle into the care home. He told The Sun, ‘She still seems unsettled and, in her lucid moments, I can see she’s worked out this isn’t temporary. She’s still thinking and saying I’ve let her down. Of course that’s a painful thing to hear, but I know it’s not the Barbara I know speaking.
‘And, let’s be honest, who else is she going to blame? I just have to smile and tell her I love her and everything I do is for her best well-being. I am no different to millions of other people who would have experienced this.’
Barbara was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in April 2014 but didn’t reveal the news to the public until May 2018. She later made an appearance to urge fans to run the 2019 London Marathon to raise money for research into Alzheimer’s and dementia. She said, ‘I’m asking you to take a stand against dementia. Support ground-breaking research to find a cure for a condition that affects so many people, like me.’
Her last public appearance was in September last year, when she met with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street to discuss reforming the dementia care system.
Showing some of her cheeky spark, Barbara told the PM, ‘Give me a kiss and better dementia care,’ as she went in for a peck on the cheek.
Since Barbara’s move to the care home, both she and Scott are trying to get used to not seeing each other all the time. Discussing the day he left her, Scott said he’ll ‘never forget the feeling of emptiness’.
He added, ‘I felt sick in the pit of my stomach that I’d left her. I still feel like that. By the time I got home and went to bed, I just felt desperately sad. It’s been 27 years since we met and we spent so much of that time in each other’s company. It feels like another chapter has gone.’