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Friday, June 15, 2012

George H.W. Bush can no longer walk on his own: Parkinson's struggle revealed with new HBO documentary

Sarah Rufca - With a documentary on the life of George H.W. Bush set to air on HBO, friends and family are opening up about the Houstonian and 41st president.

Speaking to Charlie Rose on CBS, son Jeb Bush revealed that his father at 87 year of age can no longer walk on his own, instead relying on a wheelchair and a stroller to get around

"That's hard for a guy who's been so vital and vigorous in life," said Jeb Bush, who also called his father his "hero" and added, "I've never met a man as near perfect as George H.W. Bush."

Bush has been known for his vitality despite his advanced age, famously going skydiving to celebrate turning 75, 80 and 85 years old.

On Good Morning America, documentary producer and Bush family friend Jerry Weintraub said that Bush has struggled increasingly with the symptoms of Parkinson's disease in recent years.

"He's not doing great, he's not terrible but he's not doing great. He's a very active guy and when you get Parkinson's and all of a sudden you're riding around in a wheelchair and this and that and he can't do things for himself . . . it's tough."

The HBO documentary, titled simply 41, features unprecedented access to the former president, filmed over 17 months from September 2009 to February 2011. In his own words, the typically reticent Bush speaks about his life, from childhood summers in Kennebunkport and meeting his wife to his experiences as a naval aviator in World War II to his run as a wildcatter in Texas and his rise to the top of politics.

"It shows him as a man. It's not just a documentary about a president. It's not him making big speeches out there, rallying the troops and so on and so forth, it's about his life and his service," Weintraub said.

41 premieres on June 14, two days after Bush's 88th birthday