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Whitney Houston’s Mother Cissy Battling Dementia

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Feb. 25 2019, Updated 11:53 a.m. ET

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When Cissy Houston penned a revealing book, Remembering Whitney, in the months after her superstar daughter died at age 48 in 2012, she referenced the late singer's longtime battle with drug abuse.

Now, the 84-year-old Houston family matriarch has been battling her own health issues, has learned exclusively.

“She’s in the early stages of dementia,” a source told of the Grammy-winning Gospel singer. “She repeats herself a lot and doesn’t remember what she says. She just says she’s getting old.”

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Recent claims made by Whitney’s brother, Gary, that he and his songstress sister were molested as children by their cousin, Dee Dee Warwick, have made her health woes more of a concern for family.

“The family is already fractured enough," said the source, “but she has had enough clarity to know what’s going on with these claims and is very upset."

The accusations come from a new documentary, Whitney, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

Dee Dee, who died in 2008, was also a Grammy-nominated artist who sang backup vocals for Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin. She’s the sister of Dionne Warwick, and both were nieces of Whitney’s mother, Cissy.

Gary, 60, elaborated about the alleged abuse in a separate TV interview: "I was 8 or 9 years old and I was being fondled with from time to time," he said. "It was a situation I didn't understand. I knew it was abnormal."

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Cissy and Dionne released a joint statement calling Gary’s claims “unfathomable.”

"We cannot, however, overstate the shock and horror we feel and the difficulty we have believing that my niece Dee Dee Warwick (Dionne’s sister) molested two of my three children," the statement read. "I spent many years in recording studios (sometimes with Dionne and/or Dee Dee) where I earned my living. I also went 'on the road' with my group The Sweet Inspirations to try to help provide a good life for my family BUT my children always came first in my heart and in my life."

Cissy Houston
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"When I was away they did not stay with four or five different families; they stayed at home where their longtime babysitter, Phyllis, or my dear friend Bae or their father took care of them. In all the years I traveled Dee Dee, who was 21 years older than Whitney, NEVER BABYSAT for them," Cissy and Dionne also noted in the statement.

"Dee Dee may have had her personal challenges but the idea that she would have molested my children is overwhelming and for us unfathomable," the statement continued. "Neither I, Dionne, nor my son Michael who was very close to his sister, and in the film is VERY candid about their drug use, has ever heard these allegations; we have never heard anything remotely connected to the crimes charged against Dee Dee in the film. How can that be fair to my daughter, to Dee Dee, or to our family?"

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