File photo - Former President George H.W. Bush
HOUSTON -- A family spokesman said Friday that former U.S. President
George H.W. Bush, who has been hospitalized for more than a month,
"continues to improve" but remained in intensive care at a Texas
Jim McGrath said the 88-year-old was "alert and, as
always, in good spirits." He said Bush's conversations with doctors and
now included singing.
Physicians remain "cautiously optimistic that the current course of treatment will be effective," McGrath added.
Bush, the oldest living former U.S. president, has been
hospitalized since Nov. 23. He was moved into intensive care on Sunday
for treatment of a fever following a bronchitis-related cough.
Longtime aide Jean Becker said in a statement Thursday
evening that "most of the civilized world" contacted her Wednesday after
disclosures that Bush had been placed in the intensive care unit after
physicians were having difficulty bringing a fever under control.
"Someday President George H.W. Bush might realize how
beloved he is, but of course one of the reasons why he is so beloved is
because he has no idea," Becker said in the at-times lighthearted
statement that made multiple references to the former president's sense
She said updates about Bush's condition have been
limited "out of respect for President Bush and the Bush family who, like
most of us, prefer to deal with health issues in privacy." She said
another factor was "because he is so beloved we knew everyone would
"I hope you all know how much your love, concern and support are appreciated," Becker said.
While the president's treatment was "unequaled anywhere," she said prayers also were needed and welcomed.
It had been hoped Bush would be well enough to spend
Christmas this week at home. But while his cough improved, he developed a
persistent fever and his condition was downgraded to "guarded."
Bush, the 41st president, had served two terms as
Ronald Reagan's vice president when he was elected in 1988 to succeed
Reagan. Four years later, after a term highlighted by the success of the
1991 Gulf War in Kuwait, he lost to Democrat Bill Clinton amid voters'
concerns about the economy.
Bush skydived on at least three of his birthdays since leaving the White House, most recently when he turned 85.
Bush now has a form of Parkinson's disease that forced
him in recent years to use a motorized scooter or wheelchair for