Former first lady Barbara Bush, who celebrated her 92nd birthday last June at the family’s seaside home in Kennebunkport, is in “failing health” and won’t seek more medical treatment, the Bush family spokesman said Sunday.

“Following a recent series of hospitalizations, and after consulting her family and doctors, Mrs. Bush … has decided not to seek additional medical treatment and will instead focus on comfort care,” spokesman Jim McGrath said in a statement.

President George H.W. and Barbara Bush attend one of the inaugural balls on Jan. 21, 1989, at the D.C. Armory in Washington. Associated Press File Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

A person close to the family said Mrs. Bush has a lung disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure, The Washington Post reported.

A longtime summer resident of Maine, Mrs. Bush has been living for decades with Graves’ disease, a thyroid condition.

On Monday, Jenna Bush Hager said her grandmother is resting comfortably with family members at her side.

Hager told “Today” that her grandmother is a “fighter” and that “the world is better because she’s in it.” She says Bush is in “great spirits.”


“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.”

She and former President George H.W. Bush, who live during the winter months in Houston, recently celebrated their 73nd wedding anniversary.

Barbara Pierce, the future Barbara Bush, is shown in her graduation photo from Ashley Hall, a finishing school in Charleston, S.C., in 1943. The Associated Press

Her husband, 93, has faced his own health problems in recent years. He was treated for pneumonia and chronic bronchitis during a two-week hospitalization a year ago.

Earlier in 2017 he was at Houston’s Methodist Hospital for 16 days, also for pneumonia. He was treated for a broken neck bone after falling down at home in Maine in 2015. He uses a wheelchair to get about due to a Parkinson’s disease-like condition.

The 41st president has spent every summer in Maine except during World War II, and the former first lady, who married him in 1945 at age 19, has spent many summers there as well.

In 1981 the Bushes bought Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport from family members to prevent it from being broken up, selling their summer home down the street and their house in Houston to finance the purchase.


It became a retreat, a second home and a family compound for the Bush family to stage social, political and diplomatic events over the coming years, bringing celebrities, politicos and heads of state to Kennebunkport during the elder Bush’s terms as vice president and later president.

After George W. Bush became the 43rd president in 2001, he would fly into Sanford Regional Airport and ride in a motorcade to stay in Kennebunkport as the family compound came under the international spotlight once again. Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Jacques Chirac visited Walker’s Point during the 43rd presidential era.

The Bushes have continued to summer at Walker’s Point in recent years, keeping up their friendships in the area and donating their time and resources to local causes. Those include the Maine Literacy Volunteers, the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland, and the University of New England’s George and Barbara Bush Center in Biddeford.

Barbara Bush takes a walk with her dogs on Kennebunk Beach with a walker made for the sand. Mark Ettinger Photography

Gov. Paul LePage said he and his wife, Ann, are keeping the former first lady and the Bush family in their prayers, the AP reported.

LePage tweeted Sunday evening that Mrs. Bush “is one of a kind and she has been a wonderful friend and inspiration to so many people in Maine.”

Rich Peterson, the president and chief executive officer of Maine Medical Center, issued a statement Sunday evening saying that “our thoughts and prayers turn to the Bush family during this difficult time.”

Staff Writer Colin Woodard contributed to this report.


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