Barbara Bush to focus on comfort care amid 'failing health,' spokesman says

Former first lady Barbara Bush is in "failing health" and will not seek additional medical treatment after a series of recent hospitalizations, a family spokesman said Sunday.

The 92-year-old wife of former President George H.W. Bush will instead focus on comfort care, a family spokesman Jim McGrath said in a statement.

“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. 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,” the statement read.

“She is surrounded by a family she adores, and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving,” it continued.

McGrath did not elaborate on Bush’s health problems. For decades, she has been treated for Graves' disease, a thyroid condition.

Barbara Bush has been married to George H.W. Bush since 1945, when she was 19 and he was 20. They have five children, including former President George W. Bush. A sixth child died as a toddler.

The Bushes have been married longer than any presidential couple in American history and Barbara 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.

The former first lady wrote Smith College's alumnae magazine last month she's "still old and still in love with the man" she married in 1945, the Boston Globe reported.

“I have had great medical care and more operations than you would believe. I’m not sure God will recognize me; I have so many new body parts! Also, George Bush has given me the world. He is the best — thoughtful and loving,” she said.

In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, "The President's and First Lady's prayers are with all of the Bush Family during this time."

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley tweeted Sunday that Barbara Bush is "a woman of great faith, great strength, and an unwavering love of country."

Former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, now the permanent U.S. representative to NATO, described Bush as "one of America's most-loved women," while "The View" co-host Meghan McCain called her "a woman of great strength, patriotism and an iconic first lady of our times who has touched and inspired countless lives."

George H.W. Bush, 93, also has had health issues in recent years.

Barbara Bush stands behind her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, as he performs the ceremonial coin toss before Super Bowl 51 in Houston, Texas on Feb. 5, 2017.

Barbara Bush stands behind her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, as he performs the ceremonial coin toss before Super Bowl 51 in Houston, Texas on Feb. 5, 2017. (Reuters)

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 at Houston's Methodist Hospital for 16 days, also for pneumonia.

The nation's 41st 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.

Barbara Pierce Bush was born in Rye, N.Y. 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.

Along with her memoirs, she's the author of "C. Fred's Story" and "Millie's Book," based on the lives of her dogs. Proceeds from the books benefited adult and family literacy programs. The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy began during her White House years with the goal of improving the lives of disadvantaged Americans by boosting literacy among parents and their children. The foundation partners with local programs and had awarded more than $40 million to create or expand more than 1,500 literacy programs nationwide.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.