Last week an 80-year young man sat in my office and asked, “Why would anyone call these the Golden Years”? It was a good question and my heart went out to him. He had recently learned during their snowbird winter in Florida, his wife of 60 years was dying of colon cancer. When he arrived back home and placed her in our home for hospice, his children decided it would be a good time to discuss moving from his home to an apartment. To make matters worse, the children also decided he shouldn’t drive and insisted on taking away his license until he took a driver’s test. Although his children were trying to be proactive and attentive, they didn’t realize how many losses they were creating for their father. Most significant was the loss of his wife’s health and consequent end to her life and their lifetime partnership. Losing your home because you are no longer able to care for it or yourself is another huge loss that involved tremendous courage and a long adjustment. Other life changes considered normal to our aging population can be significant losses – turning over the check book to your kids, giving up your keys, losing your privacy because of a helper in the home. Even losing the right to be left alone can be a loss. In many cases the critical nature of situations force decisions to be made hastily and with little consideration of the psychological and emotional impact of the change. Families that talk over these issues before they tend to be emergencies handle the changes best. For example, my grandmother, in her infinite wisdom and consideration, has given us a criteria for finding additional care for her and has named the place she would like to go. Her act of planning ahead makes clear her expectations, helps her anticipate her adjustment, and relieves us of certain guilt and conflict in making such difficult decisions. Maximize your comfort and enjoyment of the “Golden Years” by talking with your family about how and where you want to cared for, when to take the keys, how to handle your finances. As a side note, the gentleman I mentioned at the beginning of this letter passed his driver’s test with a 98%. It was possibly his biggest victory this year!