(W)holy, (W)holy, (W)holy: Health, Healing and Wholeness – July 2024

“Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.”  John 21:18

Jesus is telling Peter what to expect in the future, that he too will face the kind of fate that Jesus did. Peter, the impetuous disciple, needed to accept the sobering reality of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Whenever I read it, this verse also speaks to me of the sacrifices that we sometimes have to make as we grow older. <!–split–>

No one wants to find themselves in the situation in which they are dependent upon others for their daily activities. That is why it is so difficult to make the decision of whether or not we should give up driving.

Please understand that getting older does not automatically turn one into a bad driver, however, sometimes physical limitations can make it more challenging. Stiffening in joints may make it more difficult to turn your head side-to-side to watch for on-coming traffic, to accelerate and brake. They can also make it uncomfortable for our hands to grip the steering wheel. Reflexes are slower, and vision problems such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, or cataracts make it more difficult to respond to the glare of on-coming headlights, street lights, or bright sunlight, and sometimes limit our peripheral vision.

We can compensate for some of these age-related conditions by carefully planning ahead: driving during the daytime; keeping to familiar streets; taking routes that avoid risky traffic spots, such as left turns and on-off ramps; not driving when we are stressed or tired; leaving at least two car lengths between our vehicle and the one in front of us; and keeping our headlights on at all times. Regardless of age, we should all wear a safety belt and stay off the cell phone when behind the wheel! Consider taking a driving refresher course (contact AAA or AARP) – in fact, by doing so, you may receive a discount on your car insurance (depending on your carrier and policy).

But when should we hand over our keys? AARP (aarp.org/families/driver safety) proposes the following warning signs as indicators that we should either limit, or stop driving either temporarily or permanently (one or more):

  • feeling uncomfortable and nervous or fearful while driving.
  • dents and scrapes on the car or on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, curbs, etc.
  • difficulty staying in the lane of traffic.
  • getting lost – particularly in familiar areas.
  • trouble paying attention to signals, road signs, cones and barrels, and pavement markings.
  • slower response to unexpected situations (animals crossing, road construction, people walking/running)
  • medical conditions or medications that may affect safe driving (ex. untreated sleep apnea, diabetes, stroke)
  • difficulty judging gaps in traffic at intersections and on-off-ramps
  • drivers frequently honking at you
  • friends or relatives no longer willing to ride with you
  • difficulty seeing the sides of the road when looking ahead (peripheral vision)
  • easily distracted; hard time concentrating
  • hard time looking over shoulders while backing up or changing lanes
  • frequent traffic tickets or “warnings”; driving through red lights
  • friends/loved ones expressing concern about our driving
  • frequent “near misses/close calls”

None of us wants to feel that we must surrender our freedom to be an active participant in society, however, we also need to be realistic regarding our safety, and the safety of others when we get behind the wheel. We can still be productive and enjoy a full life without driving. It takes some planning, and some sacrifice on our part. Don’t wait; begin to explore other options now. You may be surprised. The money spent on maintaining a car may go a long way toward paying someone to drive for us!

Summer Blessings!    — Kara Ade, Parish Nurse