Barbara Bush In Failing Health

It’s being reported that former First Lady Barbara Bush is in failing health, and the prognosis does not look promising:

HOUSTON — Former first lady Barbara Bush is in “failing health” and won’t seek additional medical treatment, a Bush family spokesman said Sunday.

“Following a recent series of hospitalizations, 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,” spokesman 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 hospitalized 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 hospitalized 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 motorized scooter or a wheelchair for mobility. He also served as a congressman, CIA director and Ronald Reagan’s vice president.

CNN reports that Mrs. Bush has in recent years been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, more commonly known as COPD, and congestive heart failure, although it’s not clear if these conditions are the reasons she has been in failing health for apparently the best several months. In any case, the reports that Bush has decided to return home and forego treatment seem to indicate that she likely does not have long to live and that she prefers to spend whatever remaining time she has at home with her husband and the rest of the Bush family, which is reported to be in the Houston area at this point. In that case, since a positive outcome is apparently out of the question one can only hope that Mrs. Bush is as comfortable as possible and that she is able to spend as much time as possible with her family and friends as possible.

Update (4/17/2018): Barbara Bush passed away this afternoon at the age of 92.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    She’s looking death right in the eyeballs and not flinching. If only she could gift the Coward In Chief with some small fraction of her courage. Never liked her politics, but she’s got some steel in her spine.

  2. mwh191 says:

    She and I never agreed on much, but I certainly hope she passes peacefully and painlessly. It’s what we all deserve.

  3. grumpy realist says:

    “There is a time to live, and a time to sleep…” We’re all going at some point to have to confront our mortality, when the time remaining to us is not years, but months, or even only days. How we die, is as important as how we live. And a lot of us have decided that when the end is obvious, better to stay away from the hospital and the tubes and the instruments and the injections and simply enjoy the time you have left to your self, with friends and family…and in my case hopefully a few dachshund puppies.

    Barbara Bush is a strong woman. I hope she passes peacefully and without pain.

  4. Sleeping Dog says:

    She has lead a good life, may she have a good death.

  5. CSK says:

    Mrs. Bush has died.