Barbara Windsor: Former EastEnders star dies at the age of 83
Barbara Windsor passed away peacefully on Thursday night at a London care home with husband Scott Mitchell by her side. The star was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia, in 2014, but the news became public four years later.
So what are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?
Speaking to the Sunday Express last year, one of Windsor’s Kellie Shirley revealed Windsor could no longer remember her name.
She said: “A massive part of being an actor is remembering things. Your memories are such a big part of who you are. That’s why I feel for Barbara.
“She remembers so much about the past as clear as day yet she won’t remember my name.
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“We still have funny moments. It’s not bleak all the time, but it is hardcore. It’s a cruel disease that robs you of your memories.”
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease progress slowly over several years.
Sometimes these symptoms are confused with other conditions and may initially be put down to old age.
According to the NHS, someone with early Alzheimer’s disease may:
- Forget about recent conversations or events
- Misplace items
- Forget the names of places and objects
- Have trouble thinking of the right word
- Ask questions repetitively
- Show poor judgement or find it harder to make decisions
- Become less flexible and more hesitant to try new things
As the condition progresses a person may experience:
- Increasing confusion and disorientation – for example, getting lost, or Wandering and not knowing what time of day it is
- Obsessive, repetitive or impulsive behaviour
- Delusions (believing things that are untrue) or feeling paranoid and Suspicious about carers or family members
- Problems with speech or language (aphasia)
- Disturbed sleep
- Changes in mood, such as frequent mood swings, depression and feeling Increasingly anxious, frustrated or agitated
- Difficulty performing spatial tasks, such as judging distances
- Seeing or hearing things that other people do not (hallucinations)
What’s the outlook for Alzheimer’s disease?
On average, people with Alzheimer’s disease live for eight to ten years after their symptoms begin, explains the Alzheimer’s Society.
It continues: “However, life expectancy does vary considerably depending on how old the person is and other factors as mentioned above.
“For example, people whose symptoms started in their 60s or early 70s can expect to live for around seven to ten years, whereas someone whose symptoms started in their 90s will, on average, live for about three years.
“The length of time that someone with Alzheimer’s can expect to live for also depends on whether they were diagnosed early on or later in the course of the disease.”
The charity issued a response to Windsor’s passing.
Kate Lee, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Dame Barbara Windsor was an amazingly true, much-loved national treasure, and in speaking out about her experiences shone like a beacon for others affected by dementia. Our heart goes out to her husband Scott Mitchell and all their family and friends at this very sad time.
“Alzheimer’s Society is incredibly grateful to have had Barbara and her husband Scott’s support – what they achieved over the last couple of years for dementia has been truly awe-inspiring. They were absolutely key in helping make Dementia Revolution the most successful Virgin Money London Marathon campaign ever, raising a record-breaking £4 million for the Dementia Research Institute that we co-founded, raising far greater awareness of the need to fund research in this area.
“They were also instrumental in highlighting the dire state of social care and the need for change, including joining us to visit the Prime Minister, always driven by their desire to help those desperately struggling to cope with this devastating condition – demonstrated again in Scott’s moving statement today.
“We echo his plea to the Government, and, on behalf of the 850,000 people with dementia and their families, we just cannot thank them enough. Dementia remains the UK’s biggest killer and sadly, people with dementia have been worst hit by coronavirus, so have never needed help more. We are here to offer support and advice to anyone affected by dementia.”
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