Prepping is about facing the future and whatever it might hold. For many preppers their priority is to make sure they can protect and raise their children even when society has collapsed around them. But what if your children are grown up and making their own way in the world, and your own future doesn’t look as expansive as it used to be? Should you just accept the inevitable, and resign yourself to becoming an early casualty of whatever civilization- destroying event is coming down the road?
No, absolutely not! Prepping makes just as much sense for older people as it does for everyone else. The fact you’ve already experienced a lot of life doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make every effort to experience some more. Of course there are some unique challenges that go with being prepared as a senior citizen, but there are some real advantages as well.
Get on the team
Post-apocalypse survival is a lot harder if you’re on your own, and that applies no matter what age you are. It’s always better to be part of a group; a group of ten people will achieve a lot more than its members could as ten individuals. The trick is persuading a group that you’ll be an asset, not a liability – and unfortunately there are some prejudices against older people that you’ll have to overcome.
Related: What You Need in Your SHTF Survival Team
The biggest thing you can do to boost your chances of being accepted by a group is to stay in shape. Nobody is going to expect you to be in the same physical condition as a younger person, but just maintaining a basic level of fitness will go a long way. If you can’t walk or carry out basic tasks without assistance most people are going to see you as a liability rather than an asset. On the other hand, if you’re fit and well enough to live independently the balance shifts in your favor.
Good diet and a little exercise will help keep you fit no matter what age you are. It doesn’t take a lot; a balanced diet is all it takes to stave off many “age-related” health problems, and a daily walk will keep your muscles working. There’s another benefit, too; if you walking around the neighborhood is a familiar sight, everyone will already know you’re in decent shape.
One reason for staying in shape is that you’ll be able to look after yourself and others when needed. As an elderly prepper you won’t want to be getting into a brawl with looters, but if you’re mobile and can handle a gun that won’t be necessary. Brains beat brawn most of the time, after all.
Related: If You Are too Weak to Prep then You Need to Watch This (Video)
Sensible diet and regular exercise are vital if you want to maintain your health, but when you’ve been round the block a few times they’re probably not going to be enough. It’s a fact of life that body parts wear out just like anything else, and most older people are controlling at least one health issue with medication.
Medication, of course, is a problem. If the SHTF not only will production of drugs stop; the supply chains will break down as well. When your doctor has run for the hills, who’s going to refill your prescriptions? You need to ensure that you have at least a month’s supply of any essential medications, and more if possible. Try to get your doctor to give you the longest-term prescriptions possible – if you can get six months’ worth at a time that’s a big help. Even better if you accidentally lose one lot and need to get replacements.
There’s a limit to how long most drugs can be stored, though. Some will start to lose potency after their use-by date, and others can become dangerous. Investigate any possible alternatives to your own medications. Start by identifying similar drugs. In a crisis you might meet someone who has a supply of one of these, and be able to trade. Then move on to look at the drug’s actual function. Is it an anti-inflammatory, for example? If it is, so’s aspirin. More generic drugs might not be as effective as the specific one you’ve been prescribed, but they can still do a good enough job to get you through.
Related: The Only 4 Antibiotics You’ll Need when SHTF
In fact aspirin is a bit of a wonder drug, really. It treats inflammation and fevers, it’s a highly effective painkiller and if you have a heart condition it can hold the line if you can’t get statins or platelet inhibitors. Stockpile aspirin.
If you do have chronic health issues, research alternative ways to manage them. Modern drugs really are the best solution, but our ancestors had their own remedies. They might not have been as reliable, but they worked well enough for centuries. Diet, herbal remedies and simple medications can be an 80% solution, and that’s a lot better than no solution at all.
Play to your strengths
As long as you’re in good enough shape to convince a group that they won’t need to carry you, being an older prepper comes with a lot of advantages. Just think about what will fail first when society collapses – all that modern technology that you managed without for most of your life. You know how to get things done without electronic assistance, and that’s an increasingly rare skill these days.
Age brings experience, and older people have a lot of experience that’s going to be relevant in a SHTF scenario. Back in the day, most of us used to do a lot of home repairs and vehicle maintenance – much more than people tend to do now. The chances are you’ll quickly become the go-to person when something needs fixed. You’ll almost certainly be the one everyone’s looking for when something modern just doesn’t work anymore and you need an alternative solution. Even something as simple as hand-washing clothes is a challenge for plenty of younger people.
Related: 25 Skills You Can Trade After SHTF
If you have military experience that’s going to be a huge bonus. It might be a few decades old, but the basics never change – and you never forget them. If you can still handle a gun you’re going to be an asset anyway, but even more importantly you can pass on the skills you learned during your service. Whether that’s how to secure a location or using radio to get in touch with other groups, it will be invaluable.
The fact is, older people are innately more self-reliant than many of the younger generations. Decades ago we were used to doing a lot more for ourselves, and had the skills and confidence to find a solution when everyday routines collapsed. Positive attitude has a lot to do with it – senior citizens are usually less prone to looking for someone to blame, and more interested in sorting things out. Confidence bred from experience is the icing on the cake.
Even before the SHTF, these are challenging times. As you prepare for possible disasters, start to build networks in advance of when they’ll be needed. Get people used to having you around, and show them that your experience and outlook on life will be a major asset when times get scary. Most important of all, build a reputation as someone that can be relied on. It’s always a good reputation to have anyway, and all the more so if disaster does strike.
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I’m 68 years old and have terminal cancer. I prep anyway. Though I have no family, i do have younger friends that my prepping will help. After all their children are our countries future.
As to groups. I’m Commanding Officer of Bravo Company in a state registered militia. Why? Because in this position I can help train others to survive. My Duty. My Honor.
God Bless your selfless concern for others. I assume you are former military and thank you for your service. Communities that can bind together will have a better chance of surviving and you are 100 % correct about the children being our future.
PS. I will be praying for the Lord to heal you and use you in a mighty way.
Thank you for the warm words and you are correct. Many years ago I took an oath to defend the constitution against enemies from without and within. No one has ever relieved me of that oath. The gentleman who cautioned about who to select to join you is right.
Good way to pray, we’ll need men and women with that spirit (and the Spirit) to help us survive during the tribulation.I pray I’ll be one of those whom God uses at that time to help others survive and thrive in extremely poor conditions/situations.
That’s the spirit that inspires, Jess! Way to go, and we all bless you!!!
Bless you and I also join in for a payer to heal you. You are an asset to any group . May GOD and his GLORY be shown in your miricle. Thank you Jesus my saviour for people like you.
God Bless You. I’m a senior too, I prep, I am involved with a MAG. Most people I know think I’m a lunatic, maybe so. But I think that You are a role model, especially for me. What a great man.
If you are talking to me, thank you. I’m really nothing special. The way I see it is if/when a disaster happens it will be up to people like us to help assure this “Great Experiment” we call the U.S. continue, Our age group has knowledge that will come in handy when taught to others.
I am honored to talk to such fine people as yourselves.
Pick and choose your team carefully. I have a cousin who I would be afraid to invite to hole up with us because I fear my wife and I would not wake up one morning to make room for his friends and in-laws
Make it clear to those who you invite who is included and also that they must train with you and help prepare now..
Thanks for the reassurance!
I gave a lot of thought to how a senior could survive and contribute while writing “After the Blackout” a few years ago.
It’s fiction, but the situations described are not unlikely and I got some positive feedback and thanks from other people my age.
We’re older, wiser, and maybe a little too ornery for our own good, but we’re not helpless!
I LIVE IN A SENIOR LIVING APARTMENTS. LOCKE UP. I’M DIS ABLED, BUT CAN STILL TAKE CARE OF MY SELF. WE HAVE DINNERS HERE AND WE HAD AN EARTH CRAKE DRILL. I WAS THE ONLY ONE OF 10 PEOPLE THAT HAD MY BUDG OUT BAG. I’M VERY WELL PREPED SOLAR GENERATOR, WATER MAKER. ENEOUGH FOOD FOR A YEAR. THE ONLY PROBLEM IS MY MEDS. MY DOCTORS WONT GIVE ME AN EMRGANCY SUPPLY. PLUS MEDICARE PROGRAMS THAT FILL YOUR SCRIPS, WON’T FILL EXTRA ONES THE INSURANCE COMPANY WILL KICK IT BACK. SO I’M STOCK PILING MY ANTI SEZUER MEDS. THE OLDER PEOPLE IN THIS BUILDING ARE NOT PREPARED. SO, I’M ON MY OWN. I DON’T TELL ANYONE WHAT I HAVE. MY EX, IS NOT PREPARED AND I OFFERD HER BOOKS AND THING TO PREP, BUT SHES TO DAMN IGNORANT TOWARS ME. I WORRY ABOUT MY KIDS. THER THE ONLY ONES I WOULD GO AND GET AND HAVE THEM WITH ME.
check out CBD oil to replace your drugs. Also, check doctoryourself.com to find other alternatives
Smart man. My young pain center doctor was bragging about all his prepper stuff and how many thousands of rounds of ammo he had stored and I asked him with a smirk on my face, JUST EXACTLY WHERE DO YOU LIIVE ? He got the funniest look on his face as it sunk in. Don’t EVER tell people other than those you will be holing up with what you have and how much. Good luck with your meds.
Excellent article! I’ve been waiting for this. A very fit and feisty-looking Fergus is the best advertisement for what he says.
I especially appreciate the insight that “80% is better than nothing” regarding medications. I would add that we have anti-inflammatory options other than aspirin, which, as many benefits as it has, is also associated with nonfatal bleeds, as in ulcers, strokes, etc.
Aspirin was synthesized in about 1899, but the use of willow as a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory dates back at least 5000 years. Ancient Sumer, China, Greece, and several Native American tribes. I’t’s easily purchased today as “White Willow Bark” in capsule form, but I suspect it would be easily brewed as a tea in a SHTF time.Willows are pretty ubiquitous, and the capsules are cheap, store really well, too.
Those of us who did not grow up with prepackaged, microwave-ready frozen and shelf stable foods are also less intimidated by basic ingredients and recipes. Creative cooking will take the harsh edge off a rough life!
As a senior woman, I’m adding knowledge, so I’m useful in the situation. I’m worth my food. Raising small animals, gardening, canning, putting food by. Every tree will be a crop, weeds are sometimes medicinal. The old ways will help get us thru.
Your knowledge is very valuable. Many people today could not prepare a meal from basic food supplies let alone slaughter and prepare meats and can and preserve what they grow. IF they even knew how to plant and raise a garden. My wife and I try to keep the old ways alive and practice them to keep sharp.
I also do canning growing fruit and veggies dont forget quinoa high protein grain when you have no meat and few or no eggs i do have chickens and quails but whos to say they could die or be stolen im already having that problem bought a bow a few days later came home from shopping it was gone my only Christmass present only two people knew about it besides me one family then other family members fiance so be carefull who knows what you have even growing my first set of fruit trees were stole also about 1,000 dollars worth we have meth heads in our area who probably took them to trade or sell so be careful and it’s not even shtf yet
I’m sorry for your hassles. I’d like to move to the edge of town. To that end, practice my weapons. We have 4 legged trouble, coyotes are the biggest, but coons and smaller think my critters are tasty. Yes, I worry about the 2 legged variety also. Even at my younger senior age, I want to hunt. The more we acquire self sufficiency, the better off we are.
“how a senior citizen preps..” slowly. lol
Unless you’re like me. I married a younger man because all those my age always wailed “Slow down, Alice!!!” Still going strong at 74.
Slow but sure wins the marathon, its not a sprint.
I prep. I have RA and several other auto immune diseases. I can’t walk well, I have trouble with activity. But I can grow food, I can preserve it, and I can cook it. I’ve been a nurse for 30 years, much of the time in ICU, some in OB, ER, MEDSURG. I’ve studied naturopathic medicine and was working on my foraging before it became so difficult to walk. I’ll do my best, but I can’t run! Lol! I’ll stay behind in a foxhole if nec. I’m a good shot.
Your skills are invaluable. your regular professional knowledge is a wonderful. The fact you also have the natural side is what others will need. Stay strong.
You and I have a lot in common. There is no way I can bug out. I must simply fortify my home in the country and make a stand here. Unless the attacking forces have tanks and attack aircraft, I can , and will, make obtaining my supplies so costly that they will look else where. God Bless and good luck.
And some Colloidal Silver in place of antibiotics that won’t be available.Everyone should look up Colloidal Silver.
DO “NOT” forget a stock pile of hearing aid batteries, extra eye wear, ace bandages, and BIOFREEZE
Agree with you there biofreeze is great extra eyewear critical
Well, in some people’s eyes we are already useless and dead. I just turned 74, still active and full of vinegar. My husband (67) is a double amputee and spends most of the time in a wheelchair. BUT we have firearms. We are good shots and he has years of experience with an international high-risk security company (body-guarding, anti-riot, asset protection.) So he knows what to expect in bad times–and is an excellent security strategist. Also an experienced reloader. I garden and know a lot about wild forage plants–and medicinal plants. We also hunt, fish etc.
Our weak point is that his health problems drained us of $ and we live at the edge of a small OK university city–in a bad neighborhood. Things already have disappeared from our carport–and we have taken deterrent steps which are working. I have no illusions as to what we will face when things get bad… My dream is to move to the country even if we have to live in our RV. But it may never happen.
We have so much practical experience–I’ve lived without electricity and running water at times. Hunt and butcher our own meat. Grow our own veggies and now fruits on our small lot. I’m an excellent carpenter (helped my builder Dad construct houses when I was young, so understand the old ways from the ground up.) But how do we convince others of our value??? I really don’t want to join with our immediate neighbors who only know how to cash their welfare checks and get pregnant.
We do have some friends out of town…but if things get bad suddenly, we are on our own. All I can say is trust God, do our best–and to quote my husband: If we go, take an honor guard with us.
We should get together. I live by Thunderbird Lake, trying to build on my self sufficiency, and knowledge.
Excuse me, but may I ask what SHTF means? I am learning still, so hope you don’t mind me asking? And thank you very much for your website, we need more like these!
Sure Joe, it is an acronym meaning that when something really, really bad happens.
Oh, totally slipped my mind, thank you very much! 🙂
When the “Schumer Hits The Fan” (as in “Chuck”)
Anywhere in the Colorado Springs area for an Older Geez to join a well-prepared, smart group? Still move about well; and a non-traditional thinker. Planning, Communication and Negotiations Skills. Some resources
Bless you all. I am 65 and was raised by generations of those that prepared. Our group has a good mix of seasoned preppers and all ages. I give prepper classes here in the county and online. I love the results and sharing the knowledge!