DOLLY PARTON is living an Alzheimer’s nightmare after three close relatives were stricken with the dreaded disease, and she’s terrified that she’ll be the next member of her family to fall victim!
The country music queen’s Alzheimer’s-plagued mother Avie Lee died at age 80 in 2003, one of her uncles was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years later – and now another uncle is suffering from the mind-wasting ailment.
“Lightning has struck close to home three times for Dolly,” a family friend told The ENQUIRER. “She’s worried sick she could be next.”
Dolly was said to be devastated when she learned that her uncle, Bill Owens – the beloved father figure she credits with nurturing her career – became the third member of her family on her mom’s side to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She was also scared that the same fate may be in her future.
“Dolly had medical exams to detect early traces of the disease, and so far doctors have given her a clean bill of health,” said the friend.
Still, the 66-year-old superstar remains worried, say sources.
And she has good reason to be concerned, notes Dr. Gary Small, co-author of “The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program” and director of the UCLA Longevity Center.
“Genetics does play a role in Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Small told The ENQUIRER. “If you have a parent or sibling with the disease, your own risk is increased approximately twofold.”
And Dolly’s family history is not encouraging. A few years after her mom’s death, Dolly’s 78-year-old uncle, Louis Owens, was diagnosed with the disease.
“After years of watching her mom struggle with Alzheimer’s, Dolly was floored over her Uncle Louis’ diagnosis,” divulged an insider.
“Uncle Louis – another of her late mom’s brothers – is very close to Dolly’s heart. When she was seven, he gave her a guitar she cherished, but years later it ended up getting destroyed in a house fire. Dolly cried for days over that instrument, and when Uncle Louis saw how distraught she was, he replaced it with a very similar Martin guitar that rarely leaves her side now.
“After Uncle Louis was hit with Alzheimer’s, Dolly thought no way that could happen to her family a third time. Little did she know the worst was yet to come.”
Less than a year ago, the eight-time Grammy winner was shattered to learn that her 76-year-old Uncle Bill had become the third family member to be struck by Alzheimer’s.
Uncle Bill is the man a grateful Dolly credits with discovering her musical talents as a child and getting her career off the ground. He was her first manager and stuck by her side every step of the way.
At the age of 13 she recorded her first single, a song she wrote with Uncle Bill called “Puppy Love.” The two went on to write and produce a number of hit songs together.
“Dolly was in tears when she learned Uncle Bill had Alzheimer’s,” said the family friend.
But as much as the bighearted singer worries about her family, she fears her own potential encounter with Alzheimer’s, said the friend, “and for good reason!”