LOS ANGELES — Former President Ronald Reagan, the longest-living U.S. president, turned 91 Wednesday with a low-key celebration that included his favorite chocolate cake at his Bel-Air home.
Reagan, who recovered from a broken hip suffered in a fall in January 2001, has remained secluded at his home since announcing in 1994 he had Alzheimer’s disease.
The disease has exacted its toll on the nation’s 40th chief executive.
“He’s doing as well as can be expected,” said Joanne Drake, Reagan’s chief of staff.
Reagan spent his birthday with wife Nancy Reagan and daughter Patti Davis.
In Time magazine this month, Davis wrote emotionally about her father, acknowledging his birthday: “We will commemorate his birthday, speak of it, but the word ’happy’ won’t be put in front of it.”
Maureen Reagan, the daughter of the president and his first wife, Jane Wyman, died of cancer in August at age 60.
On Tuesday, son Michael Reagan accepted a Los Angeles County proclamation declaring Wednesday “Ronald Reagan Day.”
The younger Reagan told CNN Wednesday that his father sleeps later each day and “he’s not able to really get up and walk and get around.”
“Every day gets a little shorter for him and every day the world gets a little smaller for him,” Michael Reagan said.
Asked how Nancy Reagan is holding up, the younger Reagan said: “They have so many memories but they’re not able to really discuss the memories ... It’s really a one-way conversation any more with my dad.”
President Bush signed legislation Wednesday making Reagan’s childhood home in Dixon, Ill., a federal historic site. The private Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home Foundation owns the house where Reagan lived in the early 1920s.
The new law authorizes the Interior Department to acquire the site from the foundation, which would continue managing and operating it.
At the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, about 50 miles northwest of the Reagan home, there was cake, cards, a book-signing by “President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime” author Lou Cannon and a Japanese tree-planting ceremony.
“We always consider his birthday a special day,” library director Duke Blackwood said.
The 20 trees are courtesy of the America-Miyazaki Cherry Tree Association.
“Cherry trees from Japan represent peace and friendship,” library spokeswoman Melissa Giller said.
Last Oct. 11, Reagan eclipsed John Adams by living longer than any other U.S. president. Adams, who occupied the White House from 1779 to 1801, was born Oct. 30, 1735, and died July 4, 1826 — a life of 33,119 days. Reagan was born Feb. 6, 1911.