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Celebrities who have opened up about their loved ones' dementia battle

These stars have shared their heart-breaking reality of living with dementia

celebs dementia
Chloe Best
Lifestyle Features Editor
27 July 2018
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1 Davina McCall dad© Photo: Instagram

Dementia affects around 850,000 people in the UK, with one in 14 people over the age of 65 living with the condition, which sees sufferers experience memory loss and difficulties with thinking, language or problem-solving. A number of celebrities have shared their own experiences with the condition, having seen their own parents or loved ones struggle with dementia. See what they have to say…

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Davina McCall:

Davina has previously spoken about how her father Andrew isn't letting his diagnosis with Alzheimer's disease get the better of him. "It's getting worse and his short-term memory is much worse than it was a couple of years ago," she explained to John Bishop. "But his positive mental attitude they said is absolutely key in him dealing with his illness."

She added: "I look at my Dad and I see such hope and such positivity and each hurdle we'll cross when we get to it. So he's a real inspiration and I hope he can be for other people too."

2 Barbara Windsor Scott Mitchell© Photo: Getty Images

Barbara Windsor's husband Scott:

Dame Barbara Windsor's husband Scott Mitchell shared the news she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's in May 2018, saying that although she had been living with the condition for four years, her condition had worsened. "Since her 80th birthday last August, a definite continual confusion has set in, so it's becoming a lot more difficult for us to hide. I'm doing this because I want us to be able to go out and, if something isn't quite right, it will be okay because people will now know that she has Alzheimer's and will accept it for what it is," he told The Sun.

Scott continued: "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. She often asks me, 'Do the public know that I'm not well?' And she asked me again this morning. I said they didn't yet, but we were going to have to let them know because so many people are talking now. But if she forgets that she gave me her blessing, well, I'll just have to deal with that."

3 Ruth Langsford© Photo: Instagram

Ruth Langsford:

Ruth spoke candidly about her father's Alzheimer's battle on This Morning in May, saying it was "quite frightening" when his behaviour started to change. The TV presenter's dad Dennis passed away in 2012, after living with Alzheimer's for 13 years. "It's quite frightening, there is also a sense of relief when you're given that diagnosis," she said. "I hope that doesn't sound strange but when you know something is wrong and you've been looking into it and wondering and wondering 'why are they behaving like this?'... when we got that diagnosis as a family, there was an element of relief, [of] 'oh, that's why.' Then we understood it."

4 Fiona Phillips awards© Photo: Instagram

Fiona Phillips:

Both of Fiona Phillips' parents were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease moments apart, and she has since said she still has nightmares about their health struggles. "I still have nightmares about it because you feel you haven't done enough. My brothers didn't do a 10th of what I did, so resentment comes in and families are blown apart by it," Fiona said in 2016. She has since said that she feels guilty for "not seeking justice" for her father, who she believes was "over-medicated" after being moved to a mental health unit in Hampshire.

5 Carey Mulligan© Photo: Getty Images

Carey Mulligan:

Actress Carey Mulligan is an ambassador for the Alzheimer's Society after seeing her grandmother battle with the disease for 16 years. Speaking about her grandmother's condition in 2017, she told The Times: 'The progression of the disease meant that by the time I was in my mid-twenties she wasn't able to communicate much beyond a few words, and largely in Welsh, her mother tongue."

She added: "She spent that time in the most wonderful nursing home with carers who infused her days with as much love, joy and tenderness as humanly possible. The day she died two of them came in on her day off to sit with my mum at Nan's bedside. They stayed for more than three hours."

6 Arlene Phillips© Photo: Getty Images

Arlene Phillips:

Former Strictly judge Arlene's father Abraham passed away in 2000 after more than a decade battling Alzheimer's. Writing for The Telegraph about finding a suitable nursing home for her father after his condition became too difficult to manage, Arlene explained: "It's hard for anyone to say that they chose to put their parent in a home rather than give up a large part of their own life to care for them, and thinking about the years leading up to my father's death still punishes me."

She continued: "It wasn't anything to do with how much I loved him, but when it came to tasks such as helping my father eat – he'd forgotten how to swallow and had lost all interest in food anyway – I had to accept that I couldn't cope."

7 David Baddiel© Photo: Getty Images

David Baddiel:

David Baddiel created a documentary to show the reality of his father's life with a rare form of dementia called Picks's disease. He has tried to see the humour in the condition, as symptoms of Pick's can also include swearing, disinhibition and extreme rudeness. "If you can imagine Viz’s Roger Mellie, a bit more sweary, and Welsh, that’s my dad. And what the dementia has done is make that side of him — what you might call his anti-social side — grow like a malignant lesion, to the expense of all others," he told Unforgettable. "In my mind, he does not have Pick’s disease, he has Colin Baddiel’s disease."

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