Former US First Lady Barbara Bush seriously ill, halts medical treatment

Former US first lady Barbara Bush [Photo: Courtesy]

Former US first lady Barbara Bush has decided to stop seeking medical treatment and focus instead on "comfort care" as her health fails.

Mrs Bush, 92, has reportedly been battling chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure, and had been in and out of hospital.

The wife of former president George HW Bush, 93, and mother of ex-president George W Bush, 71, is now being cared for at her home in Houston, Texas.

Mrs Bush, the oldest living former first lady, is surrounded by her family after deciding not to return to hospital following a series of recent hospitalisations.

Her husband has also battled health problems in recent years.

Former US first lady Barbara Bush [Photo: Courtesy]

A family spokesperson said: "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.

"She is surrounded by a family she adores, and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving."

The statement did not identify the nature of Mrs Bush's illness.

CNN reported that she was suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and congestive heart failure, and she is being cared for at home.

Tributes poured in for Mrs Bush after her family announced her health was failing.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, wrote on Twitter: "Prayers going up for a woman of great faith, great strength, and an unwavering love of country. Our country is better because of former First Lady Barbara Bush."

Mrs Bush, originally from New York, championed family literacy when she served as first lady while her husband was president from 1989 to 1993.

Mrs Bush and her son George W Bush, then the governor of Texas, in 1999 [Photo: Courtesy]

She founded the Florida-based Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.

During the couple's time in the White House she was a popular national figure known for her occasional blunt talk and self-deprecating wit.

The couple left the White House after Republican president Mr Bush lost the 1992 election to Democrat Bill Clinton.

Mrs Bush, a mother-of-six, has been the matriarch of a political family for more than 50 years, with her husband and oldest child both serving as president.

Mrs Bush is the only woman to see her husband and son sworn in as US president.

Her son Jeb Bush, 65, is a former governor of Florida who sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, bowing out in a race eventually won by Donald Trump.

During the nomination race the former first lady was highly critical of Trump - who said her son Jeb was as "dumb as a rock" - saying she was "sick of him" and she couldn't understand why people would support him.

Mr and Mrs Bush have been married for 73 years and are grandparents and great-grandparents.

The Bush family at the inauguration of the George W Bush Presidential Center in 2013 [Photo: Courtesy]

Mrs Bush met her husband when she was 16 and they got married in January 1945 while he was on leave from the Second World War in which he served as a bomber pilot.

The future president had named three of his planes after his wife - Barbara, Barbara II and Barbara III.

After the war ended the couple moves around the US before settling in Midland, Texas, as Mr Bush pursued a career in the oil industry and eventually in politics.