Former US first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

Former first Lady Barbara Bush. (James Nielsen, AP)
Former first Lady Barbara Bush. (James Nielsen, AP)

Houston — Former first lady Barbara Bush is in "failing health" and won't seek additional medical treatment, a Bush family spokesperson said Sunday.

"Following a recent series of hospitalisations, and after consulting her family and doctors, Mrs. Bush, now age 92, has decided not to seek additional medical treatment and will instead focus on comfort care," spokesperson Jim McGrath said in a news release.

McGrath did not elaborate as to the nature of Bush's health problems. She has been treated for decades for Graves' disease, which is a thyroid condition.

"It will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself — thanks to her abiding faith — but for others," McGrath said. "She is surrounded by a family she adores, and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving."

Bush is one of only two first ladies who was also the mother of a president. The other was Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams and mother of John Quincy Adams.

She married George H.W. Bush in 1945. They had six children and have been married longer than any presidential couple in American history.

Eight years after she and her husband left the White House, Mrs. Bush stood with her husband as their son George W. was sworn in as president.

Her husband, 94, also has had health issues in recent years.

In April 2017, he was released from a hospital in Houston after being treated for two weeks for a mild case of pneumonia and chronic bronchitis. Months earlier, he was a Houston's Methodist Hospital for 16 days, also for pneumonia.

The nation's 41s president also was hospitalised in 2015 in Maine, where he and his wife spend summers at their home in Kennebunkport, after falling at home and breaking a bone in his neck. He was hospitalised in Houston in December 2014 for about a week for shortness of breath and spent Christmas 2012 in intensive care for a bronchitis-related cough and other issues.

Bush, who served as president from 1989 to 1993, has a form of Parkinson's disease and uses a motorised scooter or a wheelchair for mobility. He also served as a congressman, CIA director and Ronald Reagan's vice president.

Barbara Pierce Bush was born in Rye, New York. Her father was the publisher of McCall's and Redbook magazines. She married at age 19 while George Bush was a young naval aviator. After World War II, the Bushes moved to Texas where he went into the oil business.

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