Donna Carson / Reuters file
Former President George H.W. Bush is seen in March 2012.
By Elizabeth Chuck, NBC News
Former President George H.W. Bush is improving after being hospitalized for bronchitis, and he should be home in time to celebrate Christmas with his family, the hospital said Thursday.
"[I]nstead of battling the lingering effects of bronchitis, the focus of his treatment now centers on a physical therapy program designed to increase his strength in advance of his eventual discharge," The Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center said in a statement.
Bush, 88, was admitted Nov. 29 for complications related to bronchitis.
"Given his current pace of progress, doctors expect that President Bush will be able to celebrate Christmas at home with his family -- though no release date has been set at this time," the hospital added.
Bronchitis is a common condition in which the bronchial tubes in the lungs become inflamed and produce mucus, which creates the need to cough, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can turn serious in people with weak immune systems, including children and the elderly. Symptoms such as chest pain, weakness and coughing typically last two weeks, but can linger for as long as two months.
Bush served as the 41st president of the United States from 1989-1993, the capstone of a long career of public service. He lost his first bid for the Republican nomination for the presidency in 1980, at which time Ronald Reagan chose him to be his running mate. He went on to serve two terms as Reagan's vice president.
Bush had been a Texas Republican member of the House of Representatives in the 1960s and 1970s and head of the CIA from 1976-1977. The organization's headquarters in Langley, Va., was later renamed the "George Bush Center for Intelligence."
Before moving to Texas, where made money in oil and petroleum, Bush served as a combat pilot during World War II and attended Yale University. He got married in 1945.
Bush and his wife, Barbara, had six children; one, Robin, died as a child, according to his official WhiteHouse.gov biography. His son George W. Bush became the 43rd president of the United States; another son, Jeb Bush, was governor of Florida for nearly a decade, and is considered a top contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
Just this week, Bush's granddaughter, Jenna Bush Hager, announced she was pregnant with her first child.
In late 2004, Bush teamed up with Bill Clinton to raise money for the victims of the Asian tsunami. That effort was so successful, the two former presidents did the same for Katrina victims in 2005.
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H.W. Bush should be home by Christmas, hospital says
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