Common-sense emergency preparedness from a combat veteran

How should a senior citizen prepare for SHTF?

Old George: Senior Citizen BadassSo 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

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.

It all comes down to creating value in yourself and compensating for anything that is a real or perceived negative due to physical condition. If you take some time to take stock in your life and build value, not only will you be able to fit into a group and hold your own, you may very well end up being the one who holds the group together and saves their lives. Even if you don’t have a group when SHTF, you’ll be ready to survive until you find one.

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About graywolf

I am a military veteran who has deployed to combat theaters in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan and have almost three decades of military and military contracting experience.

My goal is to help preppers and others understand how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life.

  • Survival Sherpa

    Excellent article, bro! There’s so much wisdom that’ll be lost when the greatest generation is gone. My father-in-law turns 91 in a few days, served in WWII, awarded two purple hearts, loved one woman his whole life, drives himself to dialysis three times a week, raised two wonderful children, and is a patriot full of life!

    Anyone discounting silver-hairs contributions to a preparedness group will lose out on a great resource.
    Keep doing the stuff,
    Todd

    P.S. Hope you and you’re boy get to spend lots of quality time together while he’s home.

    • graywolfsurvival

      Had a neighborhood swim/drink party Saturday night for his return. We’re both hoping to lay off the deployments for a while.

  • david morriston

    Outstanding article. Always enjoy the posts.

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  • Peggy Harrington

    There are a lot of seniors out there without family or close friends . Many reasons for this. as you age, your family and friends die off, or are too far away to be of any assistance when the stuff hits the fan. its easy to become more “apart” from others. Does not mean they are not prepping. It does mean they need to become more proactive and join up with similar souls before stuff happens. I am thinking of throwing out a few lines and can start a group, hopefully of all ages, to become a cohesive unit, because I think units will survive when individuals cannot. There is strength in numbers. Diversity is critical. Seniors have many strengths.. I am 72, but I certainly
    don’t feel old.

  • old grey mare

    At 40 I lived on a 38 foot sailboat in the Caribbean. Small house, big pool. In 1995 Hurricane rammed her way over the island and sunk the boat I was staying on. Not a little boat. It was an 85 footer. My friend, who owned the boat, and I jumped off the boat and swam to safety. We went to a nearby sail loft to be safe. The next day, we we did a head count for our friends and neighbors. Unfortunately one of our dear friends was floating in the frothing water. Several of us took an inflatable dinghy and retrieved his body. The part that upset me personally the most was the tourists that came to the marina to take pictures of the wrecked boats and the tremendous waves on the reef. They saw the blanket on the body, took the blanket off and took pictures. We had no power for two months. No stores. N0 gas. We all pulled together at the marina. There was a big pot of stone soup on the fire. I’m now a 65 y/o widow and I’m still ready to kick butt. If I can’t kick butt, I can always pretend to be that frail little old lady next door.

  • terry

    Glad someone is thinking about the seniors.

  • Ron_Huber

    Should send this message to the people of Syria. Though their fan is pretty sh1tcovered already.

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  • MaximussFubaris

    I had to learn how to survive in this Hell Hole from day 1. My first enemy was my father, and after some years of beatings, abuse, neglect, and a downright cluster-fuck of a an early life, one learns how to survive fairly quickly! I have made it past my own life expectancy, 51, and probably have a few more left. I have survied mairrage, 3 broken hearts, died 3 times on an operating table in the emergency room, from a motorcycle accident, been gutted,(splendectomy) false-friendships, bankruptcy, homelessnes, 18 years of military life as an abused dependent, 12 years of remedial schooling, and 2 years of in-and-out and off-and-on colleg, and a whole shit-load of fly-by-nigt jobs in construction, for 20 years lifting sheetrock, multipurpose mud, and walking clown stilts all day, and slinging mud on shitrock walls, with no health insurance, and no respect ($10 hr.) is all they pay for a journeyman Painter/MudMan! and 6 months of basic training, courtesy of the USMC and Uncle Sam, and 20 years of alcoholism and drug abuse, Jail, Jail, and Jail.. So without bragging, or bemoaning my life, I can honestly say, I AM READY, BABY, Bring it on! Hit me with your best shot!.

  • Charles Erickson

    Thanks; I like the article and have joined several groups in the last while and have come across many seniors who wonder what to do in the event that this all goes south. A lot are worried with the combined onslaught of news and the knowledge that things are not right and haven’t been in a while. There are a lot with a lot of life experience that are willing to share it. One of them said that knowledge weighs nothing so one shouldn’t be afraid to share it. I am rambling, because I am a senior, any way it is important to meet other like minded people of all ages and learn from one and other. Don’t be afraid to ask, I have many older people much older then me even who only need a little encouragement, remember every one has value especially when the SHTF, not every one is a warrior, for every one there will be some where between 1 and 6 dependents. There I go again any way just thinking.

  • Mikencove

    I am 58 years old and have been seriously prepping for about 5 years. Sorry I started late, but at least I started. I have some medical problems that make bugging out be walking too difficult. Beyond that, there is no place to walk to that would do any good in the standard 72-hour scenario. So I have 2 plans. First, I plan to stay here in my rural community and survive here, and have a garden, a way to store water and a way cook without power. I also have several month’s worth of food and supplies. If that won’t work for some reason, I plan to be able to drive somewhere. The road network is good enough to allow that. My travelling kit is substantial enough for me to get several hundred miles without either stopping or re-fueling. Of course, I have weapons and ammo enough to last a long time.

  • Mike McIntyre

    My grandparents already follow pretty much everything you listed.They’re both 78 and walk 2 miles a day on their treadmill and eat right.My grandpa is a Korean vet who still cleans his firearms as a hobby.I’m 28,they raised me, and they are at the top of my list to snatch up on the way to our family’s bug out location.My grandfather and myself Marines,with my best friend a Ranger,I think we’ll be alright.

  • Doug Lass

    I turned 64 earlier this month and just won my third bout with cancer! I also have arthritis in my lower back so I am somewhat unable to do things that I could do thirty or forty years ago, but I’m willing to get more info or help others where I can. I just don’t know of anyone in my area that is a prepper or would want to start prepping. Any advice is welcome! Thanks Doug

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