Former President Gerald R. Ford was showing improvement after five days hospitalized for treatment of pneumonia and could be released Thursday, his chief of staff said.

"He is responding to treatment and shows improvement every day. He is sitting in a chair reading his newspapers and we continue to anticipate a Thursday discharge," spokeswoman Penny Circle said in a statement Wednesday.

Ford, 92, was admitted to Eisenhower Medical Center on Saturday. It was his second hospitalization in five weeks at the medical center near his Thunderbird Estates home in the Southern California desert.

In mid-December, Ford underwent routine tests at Eisenhower and was hospitalized overnight because of what Circle called "a horrible cold."

In 2000, Ford suffered two small strokes while attending the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia and spent about a week in the hospital. Doctors said there was no apparent brain damage. Three years later, he was hospitalized for a night for dizziness.

Ford became the nation's oldest living former president with the death of Ronald Reagan in June 2004. Reagan was 93.

In Washington, White House spokesman Ken Lisaius said: "The president and first lady wish President Ford a speedy recovery and wish him and his family all the best."