Prepping as a senior citizen presents its own unique challenges and circumstances that may necessarily need to be addressed in a different way from person to person. Each of us should have some members of our family who could be considered as Senior citizens unless you are hanging out with your drinking buddies and don’t plan to encounter or care for anyone other than yourself if the grid goes down. For those who do or even if you are a senior citizen yourself, I wanted to write an article addressing what senior citizens should do to prepare for SHTF or what you who might be caring for senior citizens might consider. Before I begin, I fully understand and appreciate that there are some seniors out there that could out work, out think and outperform me. This article isn’t for you obviously because I am a firm believer that you are never too old to prep but this article is geared toward the people we love and care for who need assistance and may rely on us when the time comes.
I want to start by making the claim that as a society, we have largely relegated the care of our senior citizens to others. We put our parents and grandparents into nursing homes or assisted living facilities rather than bring them into our homes. This is done for a wide array of reasons, but usually the main reason given is that “they can be cared for better” at some facility away from us. This may be true on one level in that these facilities have trained staff and equipment that the average person does not have, but I think we suffer on a human scale as a result of shifting this burden for caring for our seniors to someone else. By delegating the care they receive we absolve ourselves of the responsibility even if we are shouldering the cost of the care and the by-product is a society that values life less. We will go to great lengths to reduce the amount of trouble we personally have to go through to care for a loved one if we can afford it. If we can’t, seniors are usually sent to government facilities where the care is even worse.
Imagine SHTF and there is no Sunny-side Acres to drop your mother off at. There are no healthcare providers that can help your family member get dressed, go to the bathroom, eat or wash themselves. What will you do then? What if the grid goes down and your elder Grandparent is trapped at a facility without power? Would you go get him? What if the grid goes down and eventually your mother starts showing signs of dementia?
Physical Health Issues
All of us age and certain things are to be expected as we start adding more years onto our life. Preppers can take steps now to understand and plan for these situations so that either for ourselves or loved ones we can be better able to deal with the effects of growing old without the safety nets we have now.
I think the most important thing we can do regardless of our age is to get into the best physical shape possible. Health will pay benefits that cannot be measured in dollars and simply being able to walk for some distances could be the difference between life and death. I am not talking about seniors with physical handicaps, we’ll get into that later but as we age our strength, flexibility and endurance all suffer. Some of this can be reversed or delayed by simply leading an active healthy lifestyle. Exercise is free and will improve your overall, mental and physical health which will without a doubt be crucial in a disaster or crisis event.
If you need to bug out, being able to walk possibly for miles will be critical. I personally know several people who would have a hard time with that and I am not talking about people over 70. I know several younger people that fit this mold too, but we are talking about prepping for senior citizens here. Health is critical.
There is only so much you can do though so what if your relatives are on medication or are already confined to wheel chairs, strollers or need oxygen? Medications are probably the first you want to knock down for must-have prescriptions. Ideally any medication that is not directly responsible for a health condition would be weaned slowly (following physician’s advice and care) so that it wouldn’t be necessary. If that isn’t possible and time constraints might make that so, having a few months’ supply on hand will insulate the senior in your care for some time. Ask your doctor if you can stock up for the winter or because you are taking an around the world cruise.
Alternately, you should look for natural homeopathic medicine options that might fit the bill in a crunch scenario. Some medicines might require refrigeration so having a plan for backup power in a power outage would be critical for keeping insulin cold. If the insulin runs out or refrigeration isn’t an option you could try more austere measures and Dr. Bones has a 5-part article on the topic of Diabetes and Survival. Essentially this discusses one option for life without insulin and how important that is when prepping for senior citizens.
Mobility issues for those who can’t walk long distances or require assistance are going to be much harder to circumvent on foot. Even if you have a wheel chair it likely won’t be going off-road very well. There are hunting game carts that can handle a large amount of weight that can be used in a pinch but if this is your reality having a bug out location and a plan you are ready to implement early on in any crisis would be ideal. A game cart isn’t going to be ideal for a person without some serious modifications but it could handle their bug out bag so they didn’t have to carry it.
There aren’t any solutions for every problem and the reality of your situation and the crisis is going to dictate what you can do.
In addition to physical considerations you could be faced with mental issues that are a routine part of aging. Additionally, you could encounter resistance to change, apathy or crippling fear that could render the senior unable to move or act. As we age, our minds aren’t always as sharp as they were when we were younger so some seniors may need reminders or help with directions. The individual will dictate how self-sufficient they will be but you should prepare now to motivate in ways that you hadn’t considered before.
With my own family, I am pretty confident I will be able to lead them where I need to go. I am pretty sure they will listen to what I have to say and act more or less without too much question. With someone who is old enough or was actually responsible for putting diapers on your butt it could be a different story altogether.
Have you ever tried to talk to someone significantly older than you and try to change their mind about some topic? In essence you were trying to show that you knew more than they did and right or wrong, the elder person didn’t take what you said at face value or blew you off completely? Now imagine there is a crisis and you have to get this person to safety. They may not even believe there is a problem or they may be scared or unwilling to leave their home.
When a disaster is upon us making some seniors make life changing decisions will be a tough prospect. If they are fully in control of their mental faculties they may be more in tune with what is going on. If not, you could have a fight on your hands. It may be best to come up with alternate reasons for taking them from their comfort zone. Instead of saying we have to leave before the Ebola pandemic comes, it might be something like we have to go to Aunt Bunnies birthday party!
Seniors may have issues that will cause frustration and possibly more work on your end but if you truly care for them you have to do whatever you can to bring them along with you safely. It isn’t like these mature people are just giant babies that need to be coddled, seniors have so much to offer in the way of survival that their importance should not be discounted.
For one thing, seniors bring a wealth of experience and skill that you may never have even learned. Seniors alive now lived through the great depression so their first-hand experience and advice could save you a ton of effort and time. They might not be able to do the more manually labor intensive tasks, but they might know how to do things you need for survival like gardening, hunting or repairs. They might be the Ham Radio operator that gives your survival group the communications it needs to stay in contact with the world. They could be avid re-loaders who have the skills and equipment to cast bullets for your survival firearms or a million other things you haven’t thought of yet.
Seniors are not a burden, they just have different needs and limitations, but we should respect their lives, value their contributions to prepping and never forget that without them we wouldn’t be here today.