Thursday 17 October 2019

Check loved ones for dementia signs, Dame Barbara Windsor’s husband urges

Scott Mitchell said anyone concerned about a relative should get them to visit their GP.

People have been urged to check for dementia signs this Valentine’s Day (Ian West/ PA)
People have been urged to check for dementia signs this Valentine’s Day (Ian West/ PA)

By Sally Wardle, Press Association Health and Science Correspondent

Dame Barbara Windsor’s husband has urged people to check for the early signs of dementia in loved ones on Valentine’s Day.

Scott Mitchell, who has been married to the former EastEnders’ and Carry On star for 25 years, said detecting the condition early had allowed his wife to continue working for two more years and live life “as fully as possible”.

Anyone concerned about the way a relative is acting should encourage them to visit their GP, he said.

Mood swings, depression, repeating questions, poor concentration and confusion can all be signs of dementia, according to NHS England.

Having Barbara diagnosed early was a positive move Scott Mitchell, husband of Dame Barbara

“It’s so important to catch the signs early enough to ensure that you, your family and your loved one receive the support available from the NHS and charities like Alzheimer’s Society, so they can face the challenges dementia creates,” Mr Mitchell said.

“Having Barbara diagnosed early was a positive move and allowed us to adjust to her condition and, in my opinion, gave her an extra two years of being able to continue working and appearances in EastEnders which were normality to her and to live life as fully as possible.

“So this Valentine’s Day, I’m urging you all to support a loved one if they are acting out of character and if you’re worried, gently suggest they visit their GP and receive the care and support they deserve.”

Dame Barbara initially kept her dementia diagnosis a secret (John Stillwell/ PA)

Dame Barbara, 81, was told she had dementia in 2014, but kept the diagnosis secret until May last year.

Mr Mitchell previously revealed the actress sometimes forget they are married.

“As relationships progress over a number of years, loved ones can change and develop habits that we often put down to signs of ageing,” Professor Alistair Burns, NHS England’s national clinical director for dementia, said.

“Dementia is a condition that develops slowly and often goes unnoticed in people we know intimately.

“If you think your partner has been feeling down or is showing signs of confusion, gently and sensitively suggest that they see their GP.

“Getting a diagnosis, whether it is for depression or dementia, is the first step in accessing the best help and support.”

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