So I was sitting at Starbucks with my son who just returned from Afghanistan, as we do quite often when we’re not deployed or at some Army school, and was trying to figure out what article I should write. I haven’t written anything in a couple weeks and was feeling the itch. I posted a question on my facebook page to my readers, and as usual, got back a great idea: write an article about what senior citizens should do to prepare for SHTF.
It is an interesting idea. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the advice for senior citizens is pretty much the core of what everyone should actually be doing to prep. There are only a couple of adjustments, which are based on some generalizing of the situation any particular senior citizen may face which are more common when you’re older but would still hold true for younger people with the same condition. Another truth is that there are a LOT of senior citizens who are prepping these days. They’ve seen many things in the past and can smell things coming in the future. They’ve also learned that it’s better to prepare for life before life hits you.
I’m not a senior citizen yet myself, so I’ll be writing without my own direct experience. Please comment below if you have your own suggestions from your own experience. I’ll soon be hitting 50 but I’m lucky enough to still be in enough shape to fight in the Army and in the past few years, I’ve been to Djibouti, Uganda, Iraq, and Afghanistan. A big part of being able to still do that is just staying in shape and eating right.
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that a lot of the readers of this article are either seniors themselves or have parents/grandparents/friends etc that are, and they are having trouble with medical conditions and mobility. This isn’t always the case, obviously, but if it isn’t, you wouldn’t be looking for advice outside of normal prepping articles.
Get in shape
As a senior citizen, you will most likely not be able to run 2 miles as fast as a teenager, but in most cases, you shouldn’t have to. A wiser person would be able to figure out how to get something done without having to run. Your goal though should be to get in enough shape that you won’t be holding the group back. If you’re couch-bound and can’t walk a mile, it’ll be very difficult to convince a good group that they should take you in. Diet and exercise are key to staying healthy.
You don’t have to be able to fight off three guys at once. You just have to not be a liability. Can you shoot? Do you know enough about self defense, tactics, or car repair that you can teach things that you can’t do yourself anymore? You don’t have to be able to crawl inside a car engine to be of value to a group that doesn’t have a mechanic, but you do have to be in good enough shape to be able to diagnose a problem and get into it enough to show someone else how to do it.
Proper nutrition is a great preventative medicine for everyone, not just seniors. Do you know what foods are healthy and which aren’t? Do you know several recipes that you can use with basic foods that are easy to store that will keep you healthy?
Eating the right thing goes hand-in-hand with getting in shape by exercising. If you’re overweight, you’re gonna have a difficult time convincing people that you can hold your own, and an even more difficult time actually holding your own. Start learning how to eat right and then live it. Lose weight and get rid of those sugars and starches that are causing you problems.
Find alternative medications
A big concern to seniors that affects them as a group more than younger people is medication. You can’t rely on there being a society that will manufacture the medication you need to survive. What would you do if medicine stopped being produced in the next six months?
The best thing you can do outside of stockpiling (which is not only a temporary solution, it has its own problems), is to be able to find alternative medication. Do some research. It goes back to the knowing vs buying thing. If there are other medications that will help you, you may be able to barter for them to get you by once yours runs out.
Even better than finding alternative medication would be to find natural medication that can suffice. Can you make a suitable replacement from plants and herbs?
Learn everything about your condition. There may be certain things that you can stop doing, or start doing, that will reduce the likelihood of needing medication. Going back to the getting-in-shape thing, a lot of medical conditions are helped with people who are in shape and exacerbated when people are out of shape.
Find a group and make yourself valuable to them
The biggest thing a senior citizen should do to prepare for SHTF is to find a group of like-minded individuals that you can trust. This is true for everyone, but even more so for seniors. Seniors in general have the advantage that they’ve experienced more in life than younger people have. As such, they’ll have seen things that others may not have yet. Do you remember Old George from Kevin Costner’s movie Postman? He was an old Vietnam War vet and aerospace engineer. He wasn’t too physically spry but was immensely helpful to the group. Be Old George. He’s how I see myself if SHTF.
Start looking at things that you can learn about that you can either teach or do that a group may need. Do you have any medical training that you could dive into? Can you sew? If you take a look at the type of food that preppers stock or homesteaders grow, do you know how to cook great food with these ingredients?
In order to be accepted into a worthy group, you have to convince them that you’d be a productive member of their society. In a SHTF scenario, such as a long-term collapse of society, groups of families won’t be able to take in everyone. This won’t be a welfare state. Those who can’t hold up their end of the bargain will be left on their own. They won’t allow their children to starve to feed someone who’s just gonna sit there.
Take stock of what you’ve done in life that’s applicable. Have you raised children of your own? Do you have military experience from Viet Nam or other wars? Did you grow up on a farm? These types of people will be very valuable in a long-term survival situation.
Whatever skills you have, you need to start learning more. Focus more on learning than buying. Most preppers think they’re prepared just because they stocked a bugout bag and have a bugout route to a cabin in the woods stocked with rice. What they should be doing is learning how to make things, fix things, and find things if SHTF.
Once you’ve found your group, take an active part in making sure everyone’s ready. If you’re retired, you’ll probably have a lot of free time. Why not use that time to help others while you help ensure your future survival?
Set up a good communications plan so that everyone can reach each other in case of emergency. It won’t do much good to be ready to be picked up if they don’t know where you’re at or that you need picked up.
Become the shoulder that others lean on when they need someone. Help watch the children of others in the group. Try to fit yourself into their lives now in ways that they will be able to use you if SHTF.
Also, remember that most emergencies are small and short-lived. Make sure that you fit yourself into their lives in normal emergencies such as when they get sick or their house gets broken into. Don’t just live for a worst-case scenario. It isn’t healthy and isn’t likely to happen. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for that, just don’t do it at the expense of things more likely to happen.