CHICAGO (AFP) - Former US president George H.W. Bush was being transferred out of intensive care on Monday as he recovered from pneumonia, while his wife Barbara was discharged from the hospital after a bout of bronchitis, doctors said.
The 41st president and former first lady were admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital on Wednesday.
George H.W. Bush, 92, was suffering from bacterial pneumonia and was intubated during a 48-hour period to help him breathe.
He is now breathing on his own and could be discharged as early as Friday or this weekend.
Barbara Bush, 91, who had viral bronchitis, was hospitalised as a precaution.
Physicians Amy Mynderse and Clint Doerr said at a news conference that the two were recovering well, but full recovery could take another week or two.
"X-rays continue to improve, so no obvious re-accumulation of material in his airways that would then again put him behind the eight ball (at a disadvantage)," Doerr said about the former president, adding that he will need a "fairly aggressive combination of breathing medications" and a full course of antibiotics.
Bush has Parkinson's disease, which has left him in a wheelchair, but doctors said it was not a major factor in this latest illness. His is a less-common version of Parkinson's that affects only the lower body.
Advanced age was of greater concern.
"This age group doesn't have as much reserve as a decade ago, let alone 40, 50 years ago. It doesn't take much, from a respiratory standpoint, to get into trouble," Doerr said.
Barbara Bush was discharged but expected to return to remain by her husband's bedside, where she has been for much of their hospitalisation.
"They really, truly are therapy for each other," Mynderse said. "When she's not there, he's looking for her."
The couple "thank their fellow Americans and friends from around the world for their prayers and good wishes", Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath said in a tweet.
He posted a photo showing the former president sitting in a hospital bed, dressed in a gown and smiling. Barbara Bush is at his side, her hand on his arm, wearing a lavender sweater set and her trademark pearls.
The former president and first lady have received many messages of support, the doctors said, including from a family who hand-delivered a get-well card.
The card is in Bush's hospital room, they said.
The couple have been surprised by the public concern. Mynderse said that before she headed to the Monday news conference, George H.W. Bush asked her: "People want to know about me?"
"They're very grateful for the love that people showed them, and just are extremely humbled and I think a little bit awed by how beloved they are," Mynderse said.
The Bushes were the only former White House residents who did not attend Friday's inauguration of Donald Trump, due to their health.
The couple watched the ceremony from the hospital.
Their son George W. Bush, the 43rd US president, had a prime seat on the inaugural platform in Washington.