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.
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.
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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.
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.
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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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