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History

Helping to make dignified care a reality for all.

1996-2000

Aging with Dignity is founded in Florida, the epicenter of aging in America; foundation grants and private donations provide the start-up funds for the new non-profit.

Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles introduces Five Wishes in the state and the Miami Herald describes it as the “living will with a heart and soul.”

Eunice Kennedy Shriver joins founder Jim Towey at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to introduce Five Wishes nationally. Towey appears on the NBC “Today Show” as demand for Five Wishes surges.

Aging with Dignity successfully intercedes with Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and blocks enactment of the recommendation of a statewide panel seeking to dilute patient protections in end-of-life care laws. He later provides Five Wishes to all state employees, and in subsequent years, the governors of Maryland, Wisconsin, Nevada and other states promote it.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awards a large grant to Aging with Dignity to expand distribution of Five Wishes from the bedside to the workplace. Circulation of the document hits one million.

2001-2010

Federated Investors, Fannie Mae, the U.S. Departments of State and Justice, Delta Airlines and 3M begin providing Five Wishes to their employees as demand grows.

Aging with Dignity featured on CBS, NBC, ABC, and CNN broadcasts, and in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and Time magazine, in time of heightened public interest from the Terri Schiavo case. Over 2 million Five Wishes are distributed in this year alone.

Malley secures funding from the United Health Foundation to translate Five Wishes into other languages; today it is available in 29 languages and in Braille, and is used in Italy, China, Japan, Norway, the Philippines and Australia.

My Wishes, a conversation tool for seriously ill children, premiers at the National Child Life Conference in Dallas, Texas. Voicing My Choices is later developed for use among adolescents and young adults.

Towey’s advocacy in the Wall Street Journal and on “Fox News Sunday” successfully leads nationwide opposition to the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs so-called “Death Book,” which steered veterans toward refusing life-support treatment.

A major National Institutes of Health study published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine demonstrates that Five Wishes helps reduce anxiety among seriously ill adolescents and young adult users.

2011-2020

Towey and Malley testify before a U.S. Senate committee to make doctor-patient advance care discussions reimbursable; the federal government later adopts this policy change.

Aging with Dignity partners with VITAS, Geisinger Healthcare, Humana, Sibley Hospital, Johns Hopkins Healthcare, WellSpan Health System, Long Beach Memorial, and Sparrow Healthcare to expand Five Wishes use.

Malley’s opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, and a front-page New York Times story touting Five Wishes, further establish Aging with Dignity’s as the premier advocate for the elderly at the end-of-life.

The Carnegie-Mellon University and Duke University in separate studies examine aspects of Five Wishes use, including among members of the African-American community.

The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine publishes research that documents the “user-friendly” effectiveness of Five Wishes in patient-clinician conversations.

More than 35 million copies of Five Wishes are in national circulation, distributed by 40,000 partner organizations across the country; Five Wishes now meets the legal requirements of 44 states and remains usable in all 50.

During the coronavirus crisis, the Washington Post publishes a Towey opinion piece advocating for compassion for the elderly. Aging with Dignity offers Five Wishes free to all when the crisis began and thousands requested copies immediately.

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