The White House has learned that the health of former President Ronald Reagan is deteriorating.

A source familiar with the situation surrounding former President Reagan's health said his death could be soon.

Don't be surprised, the source told White House reporters, the time is getting close.

Mr. Reagan suffers from the debilitating brain disease Alzheimer's, and has not been seen in public for a decade.

At 93, Mr. Reagan has lived longer than any other U.S. president, and has become a legend for American conservatives.

Mr. Reagan was shot, as he left a Washington hotel in 1981, but recovered from those injuries to be re-elected to a second term in 1984.

In 1987, Mr. Reagan and then-Soviet leader Michael Gorbachev agreed to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear forces.

He and his wife Nancy retired to California where she has cared for him during his long illness.