Transitions With Jean Blog

Just A Jalopy

Jan 4, 2024

Sometimes I feel like I am turning into a jalopy. Yes, that is a word: “An old, dilapidated automobile.”

I never really was like a souped-up Camero or even a sleek Jaguar. I was more of a Chevy Trailblazer –
like the SUV I had in the ‘90s.

It was functional, with 4-doors which was great for kids, and had a bit of space in the back for hauling
stuff around. It was good and solid but nothing fancy; kind of average but useful – yup, that sounds exactly like me.

Over the years, hubby and I always tried to take care of our cars so we could get the most out of them. We cleaned and waxed them to keep them in good condition, kept up the oil changes (not as much as recommended, but enough). We changed the tires when they got too worn to handle the Wisconsin winters. We got our recommended check-ups, and repaired parts when needed; you never want to wait until your muffler falls off!

We were also careful drivers. We know that accidents can be costly – in more ways than one. They depreciate the value and then things will never be the same.

Nevertheless, cars eventually get rusty, brakes wear out, the colors fade – yup, that still sounds like me.

If you think about it, we are much like our vehicles.

How can you keep yourself in good shape? Unlike cars, you cannot just park in the garage to keep in mint condition. In real life, you have to use it or lose it.

Don’t let the recliner take over! Watching TV or sitting on the internet isn’t exercise. Practice moving. Have a plan. As Nike says, “Just do it”. Keep those parts functioning or they will freeze up and fade away.

Exercise your brain. Keep it lubricated with workouts like puzzles, reading, building models, learning a new skill, and by doing aerobics to keep the blood flowing.

Go to the doctor and the dentist once a year. Checkups catch little problems early.

Safety is everything. If you ever get in an accident, it can affect you in the long run.

Balance is important. Use that handrail – not to catch yourself if you fall, but rather, every time you go up or down a step, including stepping into the shower. Put your hand firmly on it so you won’t fall in the first place. Take your medications as instructed. Medication can play a big part in balance.

We all get up at night to use the bathroom. When you wake up, make it a habit to sit up and pause before standing. Take two breaths – and then hold onto something.

Don’t stumble around in the dark. Have nightlights installed. Keep walkways clear of tripping hazards.

Stay off those darn stools and ladders. Forever.

If you want good results from your car, you must maintain it. The same goes for your life. Do what it takes to keep yourself in good-working order – you want to last a lifetime.

Jean Long Manteufel writes a column on the first Sunday of each month about life changes associated with aging.  Send your questions to or call 920-734-3260.