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Former President George H.W. Bush expected home for Christmas

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Former President George H.W. Bush is expected to be home from the hospital in time to celebrate Christmas with his family, according to the Houston hospital where the 88-year-old was admitted for bronchitis on November 23.

"President Bush's condition has steadily improved to the point that, instead 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," George Kovacik, a spokesman for The Methodist Hospital, said in a statement.

"Given his current pace of progress, doctors expect that President Bush will be able to celebrate Christmas (December 25) at home with his family, though no release date has been set at this time," the statement added.

Bush, the 41st U.S. president and a Republican, took office in 1989 and served one term in the White House. The father of former President George W. Bush, he also served as a congressman, U.N. ambassador, envoy to China, CIA director and vice president for two terms under Ronald Reagan.

The Houston Chronicle reported in February that Bush had been diagnosed with lower body parkinsonism, which causes a loss of balance.

(Reporting By Corrie MacLaggan; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Stacey Joyce)

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