Former President George H. W. Bush has been hospitalized in The Methodist Hospital in Houston for the past week with what his staff confirms is bronchitis and a chronic cough.
Jim McGrath, a Bush spokesman, told ABC News that the 88-year-old former president has not developed pneumonia or any life-threatening condition and is expected to be released over the coming weekend.
Bush is “sitting up, moving and walking as much as he can to help his recovery,” Dr. Amy Mynderse, an internal medicine physician in charge of his care, said in a hospital news release.
“This was never a serious or life-threatening situation,” Mynderse said. “We simply wanted to prevent the progression of the disease into pneumonia, which is possible in any patient at this age.”
Mynderse said despite discomfort from the lingering cough, Bush is “definitely in great spirits,” and, “he is happy, joking and definitely getting better.”
His family has said publicly the former president is no longer able to walk unassisted, a frustration for a man who enjoyed an active lifestyle of golf, fishing, jogging and power walks on the beach near his summer home in Maine. In Houston, where he and his wife, Barbara Bush, have lived since leaving the White House almost 20 years ago, President Bush has been in and out of the hospital for health concerns and two hip replacement surgeries.
In June 2012, Bush reflected on his life and family in an interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer.
“I’ve been very blessed, when you look around, compared to … others,” Bush told Sawyer. “But you must feel responsibility to others. You must believe in serving others. I think that’s a fundamental tenet of my life.”
The former president also became emotional last summer in a birthday interview with his granddaughter Jenna, a contributor to NBC’s “Today Show.” He read a portion of a letter to his family about growing old.
“As the summers finish out, and the seas get a little higher, winds a little colder,” he wrote. “I’ll be making some notes, writing it down lest I forget so I can add to the report on getting older. Who knows, maybe they will come out with a new drug that makes legs bend easier, joints hurt less, drives go farther, memory come roaring back and all fears about falling off fishing rafts go away.”
Ann Compton covered the Bush presidency for ABC News.