Fans of Dame Barbara Windsor will be devastated to hear the Carry On and Eastenders legend has sadly been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Barbara's husband, Scott Mitchell has confirmed that the iconic actress has been taking medication to help manage the "cruel disease" but in recent weeks, her symptoms of confusion and memory loss have worsened.
The 80-year-old actress first showed symptoms of the disease back in 2009 when she found it difficult to learn her lines and in 2012, Scott encouraged her to visit the doctor for tests after noticing a "slight sadness" develop in her. Speaking to The Sun newspaper, Barbara's husband Scott revealed how Barbara took the very sad news.
He said: "From the start, I said to Bar, ‘I want you to have these tests because you’re getting a bit forgetful and we may as well just nip it in the bud’. She was fine about it.
"In my mind, I truly hoped it would be nothing. Just a bit of old age, you know?
"But if I’m honest, I had also noticed a slight change in Barbara’s personality. Rather than being her normal positive, bubbly self, it felt like a thin veil had been drawn across her that was more serious.
“At times, I’d see a slight sadness develop that just wasn’t her. I put it down to age, but I now believe it was the very start of this illness.”
"When the doctor told us, she began crying then held it back, stretched her hand out to me and mouthed, 'I'm so sorry.'
"I squeezed her hand back and said, 'Don't worry, we'll be OK.' "
Since she turned 80 last August, Scott has noticed that her symptoms are worsening, meaning the disease is more difficult to hide. Her husband of 18-years also hopes speaking out will help others who are affected by Alzheimer's.
He told The Sun newspaper: "I hope speaking out will help other families dealing with loved ones who have this cruel disease. Secondly, I want the public to know because they are naturally very drawn to Barbara and she loves talking to them.
"So rather than me living in fear she might get confused or upset, they'll know that if her behaviour seems strange, it's due to Alzheimer's and accept it for what it is.
"We're still going out for walks or dinner with friends and we still laugh together a lot. She loves going out and it's good for her - she comes alive. And of course, the public are naturally very drawn to her, which I don't want to stop.
"Unfortunately, I notice she feels a kind of shame about it. There's a vulnerability there and I keep telling her, 'Bar, no one will think you're silly for having this'.
"I explain that if someone has cancer, no one looks at them and thinks 'How ridiculous'. We sympathise and it's the same with this."
Barbara has now retired from charity work as well as acting as a result of the disease.