Dame Barbara Windsor has "no recollection" of her relationship with her husband.
The 80-year-old actress' spouse Scott Mitchell revealed on Thursday (10.05.18) that the 'Carry On' star had been diagnosed with degenerative brain disease Alzheimer's four years ago and he's now admitted she struggles to remember they are married and often thinks he's just in their home to care for her.
Scott - who has been with Barbara for 25 years, 18 of which they have been married - told The Sun newspaper: "She suddenly has no recollection of our history.
"She'll look at her wedding ring and say, 'Are we married?' But that's the thing about this cruel disease, isn't it?
"She's not frightened of me, so I'm thankful for that. Over the last couple of days, the conversation has turned to, 'I just think it's wonderful that you come here to look after me' -- and she keeps thanking me.
"I say, 'Barbara I'm not here to look after you, I'm here because I love you'."
Scott, 55, tries not to show his frustration to Barbara when she repeatedly asks him the same questions, but sometimes he can't help but reveal his "tiredness", which makes his wife fear she's a "nuisance" to him.
He said: "As anyone who looks after someone with dementia or Alzheimer's will know, it can be very trying because a lot of the time they're totally unaware that they're asking you the same thing ten times in an hour and you're giving them the same answer.
"And when you get to the end of an evening and those questions are still being fired at you, the tiredness sometimes shows on my face and she'll say, 'I can see that I'm annoying you'.
"One of Barbara's big things in life, which she has always spoken about since the day I met her, is that she doesn't want to be a nuisance to anyone.
"She said to me the other day, 'It's not fair, because you're a young man and you shouldn't have to look after me. You should have a girlfriend and enjoy your life'.
"It was such a generous but heartbreaking thing to hear, and I just said, 'That's not how it works, Bar'."
On the suggestion of the actress' neurologist, Dr. Angus Kennedy, Scott has bought a white board which he fills with basic facts to help prompt his wife.
He explained: "She always asks me what day it is, so I write the day and date, as well as key points such as, 'Scott has lived with you in this house for 25 years. Scott and Barbara have been married for 18 years.' "
Scott admitted he's been worried about the time when the former 'EastEnders' actress will no longer recognise him at all, but he's determined to keep caring for her as long as he can.
He admitted: "Initially, my mind wanted to take me to the darkest place of, 'What's going to happen when Barbara doesn't know me, or maybe doesn't know what she did in her career and how many people she affected in her life?'
"But I knew I had to keep strong and positive, so I now take this one day at a time...
"I will always take advice from the professionals, but we've been together for 25 years, she's my wife, and I love her unconditionally.
"So for as long as is humanly possible, I want Barbara to be cared for by me in our home. That's my wish."
Until recently, Scott used to leave Barbara at home while he made brief trips to the shops, but he can no longer do that after leaving the house for just a few minutes and receiving two "urgent" voicemails from friends, who said the actress had called them in a state of confusion asking how long Scott had lived there.
He said: "So I just wouldn't leave her now. She was always reluctant for someone to help out because she's so fiercely independent. But I say, 'You might wander out in to the street and get confused and I have to protect you from that'."
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