KANSAS CITY, Mo., Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Barely a month after the death of her twin sister, advice columnist Pauline Phillips, better known as "Dear Abby," has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, Universal Press Syndicate said Wednesday.
Phillips, 84, started "Dear Abby" in 1956 to compete with the "Ann Landers" column written by her identical twin sister, Eppie Lederer. Lederer died June 22 of cancer.
A statement by the syndicate said Phillips' memory has been declining slowly. Spokeswoman Kathie Kerr said she's in good spirits and in good shape physically.
Phillips last year turned over the day-to-day responsibility for the column to her daughter, Jeanne, and admitted she had been sharing writing duties with her daughter since 1987. Jeanne Phillips began taking sole credit for the column last month.
"Out of respect for my father and his wishes, I have not been at liberty to discuss my mother's Alzheimer's publicly," Jeanne Phillips said.
"That may change one day, but right now, I hope it's enough for the people who love her to know that she's physically healthy and is receiving the best professional care in the world, surrounded by family who love her."
Pauline Phillips is married to Minneapolis businessman Morton Phillips.