Scott Mitchell reveals more about his wife Barbara Windsor’s dementia
We were heartened to hear Dame Barbara Windsor’s husband Scott talk openly this week about one of the most difficult parts of the dementia journey.
Appearing on ITV’s Lorraine, Scott revealed that while Barbara has ‘good days and bad days’ she often experiences the distressing symptoms of sundowning, which mean she can become increasingly confused in the evening. During moments of clarity, Barbara, 81, also sometimes feels afraid when she considers the future.
“Come around five o’clock onward, the confusion and disorientation will set in a lot more,” Scott explained. “Last night was not a good night. She was very confused, and she said something – and I think this is important to say, for other people – she suddenly looked at me and said ‘I’m scared, Scott. I’m scared, because this is getting worse.’”
Many families on the dementia journey will relate to what Scott is describing. “I can see her looking around the house and not placing where she is or asking me ‘Are we going to stay here? Have I got clothes here?’” Scott added. “And there’s not a lot you can really do apart from be there and just calmly try and talk her round.”
He’s right of course – and it sounds as if he’s coping really well. As thousands of family carers know, patience, understanding and compassion are probably the best gifts you can give someone with dementia when they’re feeling agitated, restless and afraid.
Scott also thanked everyone who supported him when he ran the London Marathon last Sunday on his 56th birthday. Barbara wasn’t at the finishing line to meet him because Scott felt – quite rightly – that it might have been too much for her. “It’s so vast, it’s so fast and it’s so noisy,” he says. “I just know she would have, at some point, got confused or forgotten why she was there, or looked and thought ‘Where’s Scott? Why isn’t he here?’ “The main thing I have to think of is her well-being and keeping her safe and protected from those moments.”
But Scott did phone Barbara as soon as he could – and received a great response. “She said, ‘that’s wonderful darling. When will you be home?’” he laughed. “When I got home, she had tears in her eyes and gave me a big hug. I showed her the medal and she said how proud she was. She really did take it all in.”
Barbara, who was first diagnosed with dementia in 2014, has since said she is, “truly overwhelmed” by the generosity of the British public. “I’m heartened by every single donation that has been made – however big or small,” she says. “Your messages of support and encouragement mean so much to me. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”
Scott ran the marathon with his special charity team, Barbara’s Revolutionaries, which included Chris Evans and EastEnders cast members past and present including Jake Wood (who plays Max Branning), Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale), Emma Barton (Honey Mitchell), Kelly Shirley (Carly Wicks), Tanya Franks (Rainie Cross), Jamie Borthwick (Jay Brown), Natalie Cassidy (Sonia Fowler) and Jane Slaughter (Queen Vic barmaid Tracey).
So far Barbara’s Revolutionaries has raised more than £140,000 for Dementia Revolution, a campaign by Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK. The campaign aims to raise £3.5m to power the most ambitious dementia research endeavour the UK has ever seen – the UK Dementia Research Institute. The money will fund 700 researchers in six centres across three nations, working tirelessly to find better treatments and a cure – revolutionising dementia research.
Go here to donate to Barbara’s Revolutionaries.