Preparedness for older people

Over the past several weeks I have been contacted by several people who are retired or close too retirement age with preparedness questions. At 42 years old and I can only respond the best that I can with the information provided.

Many of these people are in tough situations. They are often on a very limited budget. They often have minimal or no firearms training and littleĀ confidenceĀ to learn. Bugging out is often not an option health issues may provide limitations as well as just a lack of ability to move supplies. Most of my contacts are older women who have no husband.

This is tough.

I am thinking about the multitude of situations these people are in and what the best responses should be. I am not discounting older people and their abilities by any means. It’s just that many older people are now discovering “preparedness”. I think many suggestions would be the same regardless of age – such as putting together a 72 hour kit and starting to build a food and water inventory. It is interesting that many of these older folks have DEEP and SERIOUS concerns about the economy. From their years of living they have an educated belief that the S is about to HTF.

I am going to put some thought into how I can best do my part in helping older preppers that are confused on what to do.

If anyone has any thoughts, suggestions, comments – please leave them here or send me an email.

Thanks – Rourke

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31 thoughts on “Preparedness for older people”

  1. Rourke, I am all of the above. Retired with heath issues and on a limited budget. My advise is to do what ever you can when you can. You can prep on $10 a week. I am living proof that it can be done. As to the part about weapons training or a lack of this is where networking with other preppers comes in. Find someone that has that proficiency and lean on them for that part of your prep’s. Networking is key when you have limited income and limited resources to work with. There are others that will listen to your knowledge in other areas. Age does have it’s benefits. Life experience has it’s pluses.

  2. Older people will have the same basic needs as younger preppers, even on a limited or fixed budget. I think what my overwhelm them is a lot of the high speed gear and the whole bug out mindset of many in the community. I would recommend addressing basic needs list, common weapons, first aid and medicine storage and detailed plans for bugging in. Many older patriots will not leave their current location for a variety of reasons, so educate them on how to survive and thrive in place.

  3. I am 61 years old, Unemployed after 40 years in Construction experience and awaiting Retirement as no one is hiring 61 year old Construction Managers. I have been a prepper for most of my life. I never had the money to really put a lot away, and being in construction there is no real retirement or benefit package except what you do for yourself. I have lived thru multiple layoffs over the years and have struggled financially and have learned and benefitted from it. Most people my age are usually pretty resilient and even though we are older we have a lot to benefit the young, with experience and knowledge, a lot of us know what we need and what our weaknesses are. I believe it would benefit the young and old to talk to each other. I have learned the past year to live on 1/4 of my income. I have had to give up things that I thought I could not and it has not been the problem I expected. If I had not been prepping for the last several years I could not have survived the last couple years. I have used my prepping to cope with layoffs, storms and general economic disasters. I am sincerely looking forward to reading the results of your thoughts on this subject. Most of the advice in many of these blogs involve significant amounts of money and many of us don’t have that. I am still putting aside even in my current economic condition so anyone can do something and that is how it starts.
    Networking is necessary to share our experiences with those who have ideas but no experiences. I think the idea of prepping advice for the older is great and further it could work both ways.
    Semper Fi

  4. I, too, have many readers that are older (like me ha ha) that have expressed serious concerns as well as a sense of desperation when in comes to prepping. Some of the greater challenges are a sense of “it is too late” or the matter of money. Food, medicine, or preps? A tough decision and not much different than the “food, diapers or preps” faced by young families.

    Although I have written about this topic on many occasions, it is important that a younger audience be well informed on the issues faced by older members of our community so that they can guide and assist their parents and older family members.


  5. Before 2008 my finances were doing well and I looked forward to a healthy retirement. After The Fall and subsequent bad years my faith in finances, recovery and advisors are now at 0. When I felt that another Great Depression was on the horizon is when I became a rabid prepper. I am in my late 50s and when my 25 year old looks at my preps she understands why I became a prepper but sometimes I know she is rolling her eyes as I would do too if I were still in my 20s. I sometimes think of all this as my new 401k but I still know if there were disasters such as these tornadoes, job loss, etc. the preps are just as vital. I am just thankful I discovered this way of life even though I am in my later years.

  6. I’m 60 years old and call me crazy, but I’m “prepping”. Us older folks have the advantage of not having to look too far beyond the near term future. Nature will of course conquer us all eventually. I just prefer to go down fighting.

  7. To some extent the decisions you will make depend more upon your health then your age. For some older people the choice to “bug out” would be a death sentence. Living in a home without heat or having to cut your firewood with hand tools would be difficult. Planning ahead is even more important when you are a senior citizen.
    In a tribal society the older people were the brain trust. They made the major decisions and guided the efforts of the entire tribe thuis channelling the strength an vigor of the young in productive ways. This family structure continued even until recently in Europe where extended families would live together or close and the older more capable family member would be a leader. This is a good social system and it should be the fallback position for families today in the event of SHTF. At 68 years old I cannot work 16 hour days anymore but my children and grandchildren can. My children and grandchildren have a minimal idea of what must be done to get through tough times but I have many good ideas and experience on my side. As a team we are strong as individuals we are incomplete and vulnerable.
    I continue to encourage my children to do whatever it takes to get through these tough times. But if the economy collapses, if we have a deep depression or some other SHTF event I will encourage my children to come home and bring their children and we will get through this. I don’t “want” to do this, I always expected to spend my golden years traveling and enjoying life. But I feel that I am well qualified by experience and knowledge to do this with my family and be the strong leader they will need to get us all through this tough time.

  8. I am 52 and work a full time job (civil engineer, if it matters). As time goes by, I see our family being more restricted by the need to shelter in place. I can still lift and tote feed sacks and calves, move tractor tires, pull 100-yards of barb wire tight, and wrestle with the grand kids; but I can’t carry an 80 pound ruck on a 12 mile run like I did when I was 19 or 20. I’m a little slower every year, find a few new aches and pains, and occaisionally wonder if I really needed to expereince 367 plf’s or 6 years of full contact martial arts competitions in my youth.

    For us money, especially retirement income, hasn’t been a significant worry – yet. But, I certainly do see our dollars dwindling. We have a significant commitment in land, off-grid power, food storage, water supplies, and metals for barter and exchange (especially lead). However, I can’t pick up any sigificant portion of it to relocate. Unless one plans to live the rest of their lives on what they can pack into a couple of suitcases, staying in place may be the only viable option for older people – it is for us.

    My 2 cents – if you are older and just getting involved in preparation for long term survival in a situation where the local stores can’t supply your needs or the local constabulary can’t provide some minimal level of protection you should look to join a group of folks who are already established. Life experiences have an intrinsic value which often can’t be equated to X pounds of wheat or Y rolls of toilet paper or Z rounds of 5.56. Skills such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical, small engine repair, food preparation and canning, and even care and instruction of children can be life savers for a small group. Keep the grandkids out of my way while I put Jim Bob and his gang of zombie marauders under fire and I will consider you well worth a plate of beans 3 times a day. Teach them what you know (reading, writing, arithmetic, and some minimal social graces comes to mind) while I work on keeping us all fed, warm, and dry will certainly earn your place near our fire.

    Another point – if you are older and less able to carry heavy loads (even if it is to place a few cases of food and water in the Edsel or Studebaker – remember the EMP scenario), give some serious consideration to caching. Figure out where you plan to go (including your alternate route), how far you can travel on the minimum amount of supplies you figure you can escape with, and start placing caches along your route. I have stuff in road side rest areas, power line easements, and near historical markers (very prevalent in Texas). Any place I can remember a few nearby landmarks and get to on foot with a shovel. Will I lose a few – probably. Will I ever need them – I really hope not. Can I count on them if I really have a need – definitely.

    Finally, keep in mind that medical care may be severely restricted in the future. Our population is aging. Over time medicines and procedures will become more expensive or harder to get. The doctor/patient ratio is not getting any better. Nutritious food stocks with wide varieties of products throughout the year may become harder to get at a reasonable (or any) price. Emergency healthcare may become overwhelmed with trauma cases and less responsive to normal age related issues – heart attack, stroke, diabetes, pneumonia, etc. There is no possible way most of us are going to be able to stockpile every conceivable form of medicine we may need to maintain a healthy old age. Hence, it is prudent to plan for a shorter life. Face the reality and it won’t come as such a surprise. Come to peace with your spirtual needs, tell your family what your plans and wishes are, and make every day count until they come to their end. I hope everone reading this lives to be 100, empties their bucket list, and wins the lottery 7 times. However, I have my plans in place for a somewhat less stellar future.

    Beets, carrots, and potatoes are in the ground – spinach and lettuce later this week. Pruned the peach and plum trees last Saturday. Tomatoes are looking good (getting tired of bringing them in at night, maybe it will stay warm and I can leave them out until harvest). Beans, squash, peppers, radishes, and eggplants are peeping out – time to start prepping their beds. Still have herbs from last year (mild winter – good for plants, bad for mosquitoes). 3 new calves over the weekend – should have 12 this year (at least that is how many looked pregnant – wonder if I have any obese cows?). My grandparents raised their kids during the depression. After many years of listening to their tales of hunger and need, I took their advice and try to keep my grocery store in the back yard. Lots of work, but very rewarding.

    I don’t claim to be a geek, but I admire the sentiment ……………………. Live Long and Prosper.

  9. I agree with the fact that many in our society will have physical and financial limitations precluding them from being the ultimate survivalist. While preparing for survival should be considered a responsibility to Family, God, and Country, surrendering to the premise that a severe survival only situation is inevitable guarantees the outcome and the need for survival.

    Natural events withstanding, we have not reached the end yet. Economic and financial collapse is not yet upon us and the government has not yet stifled our ability to take action.

    Every one has the ability to speak out now and take action against a system collapse. Everyone reading this website can leverage their time and voice by logging their comments and points of view onto every news story and political website. Call it conspiracy theory, but I believe foreign operatives actively work on the national media websites to form and shape our collective opinion. The work to agitate and create civil unrest. I believe that we have operatives within our government who seek to dismantle our constitution and freedoms for their new forms of government.

    I agree prepare, but also aggressive protect what we currently have. Do not hand over our freedoms submissively. Prepare, but fight! and the fight is now!

    How can we avert the coming crisis? Is Occupy the right movement to support or is the Tea Party the right movement? Should we be conservative or progressive? Have an opinion and make your voice heard!

    I wrote the statement above as neutral, but I am God, Family, and Country to the core.

  10. Preparedness is done best when it is a community activity and not just individuals. For everyone that points out the breakdown of society (very probable), they forget that being a part of an organized, prepared community of people offers the best chance to survive and thrive.

    In our case, it is our church family. And just as we’re commanded by Christ, we are looking after the widows, single parents, young, and elderly. I understand, though, that many churches have forgotten their primary mission (the good news) and their primary vehicle of sharing (meeting the needs of people). So finding such a place could be difficult.

  11. This is a tough and touchy subject because many seniors will perish. As a young senior, I just qualified for my AARP card 4 years ago. I have been contacted by a few single women who are between ten and thirty years older then myself. The old saying there is safety in numbers is still true today. Because my time is limited I only cover the two most cridical.

    With limited budgets its very hard so I generally recommend a .22 caliber plan which is great for all ages. To start they can buy a semi auto target pistol and 5000 rounds of ammo for under $450. Without security they can die in 1 second, so I put it first. For most seniors they can handle the recoil with ease and you can shoot a lot of rounds for training quick. I recommend a Beretta U22 pistol and a Ruger 10/22 rifle.

    Second is water, you can only last 3 days without water. I recommend a minimun of 30 day drinking water and a catchment system or filtration to refill your supply. I use a MSR Miniworks EX and 4 extra filiers. Also get a roll of 20’X100′ heavy mil. plastic sheeting in black, it has many uses besides water catchment.

    This is very basic and very cheap, but you will live till tomorrow and thats survival. One second, One minute, One day at a time.

    The sad fact is that if the SHTF one third of the population will perish and seniors will be hit the hardest. Prepare today and survive tomorrow.

  12. I’m already nearly 20 years older than you and have parents who are 25 years older than me. So as one of the older people you’re referring to I think there are two primary starting points. One very difficult; the other easier.

    The difficult one is an honest discussion about how much effort the senior wants put into sustaining their life if everything truly falls apart (I mean no power, water cutoff, transportation available only to those with horses or bikes, rampant crime/gangs without any viable option of civil society being restored in a 3-6 month period). In such circumstances, anyone with physical/mental/emotional limitations (senior or not) is unlikely to survive without extraordinary efforts. Talk to the older people you’re associated with and ask them what they would want to happen in such circumstances.

    The interesting thing to me is that most seniors (75+) that I know are not interested in extraordinary measures being taken on their behalf in such a situation. This doesn’t mean you leave them alone for the gangs to ravage – but it does mean that if the younger people have to run everyone knows it’s ok for you to leave them with a gun, some water, and food while you get out of Dodge.

    The second thing is to learn actual skills from older people before things totally collapse. The greatest problem with many younger people today is that they don’t know how to “do” anything with their hands other than text and swipe on electronic devices. In many scenarios of disaster/collapse, the skills that will help people stay alive are skills that many seniors still have. Learn how to sew, learn how to build a basic outhouse, learn how to grow food, learn how to gut a fish, learn how plumbing gets cleared out, learn how machines work, learn how to grind wheat and make bread. People survived for a long long time before electricity. If we come to that again, the young people who survive will have practical “doing” skills.

  13. I am very glad someone is at least thinking about addressing this issue. To be sure, it may not help everyone, but even if it helps a few, that is a start.
    I am in the catagory you mentioned – older, female and without sons, son-in-laws or a husband, so there is no available “muscle” around to help out in a bad situation.
    That being said, there are some pluses: I live in the country pretty far from a city of any size, I have a well, some stores, some guns and (as the Houston girl said) “lots and lots of ammo”. My real problem is finding anyone I could trust to be part of a group effort at survival. It is not an easy subject to broach, even with friends, and not having lived here all my life, I have few of those anyway and no one I know is prepping. Don’t have enough to support an entire community, so I am reluctant to ignore Opsec however much we could use the additional help.
    Looks like we’ll just have to go down “runnin’ and gunnin’ when the gov’t zombies show up at the gate. Thank God I’m in good shape for a 70 something old broad and all my weapons are zero’d in!
    Any suggestions and tips will be taken under advisement. Thanks!

  14. it’s the same wether your 42 or 65. the order changesa little.meds and food are tied.followed by alternate haeting and cooling is just as important for elders as heaating. safety isa concern no matter what age. keep it going! take care del.

  15. i have been reading your blog for about a year….and am 62 yrs old. my health will not allow me to bug out. bugging in is my only option for better or worse. most of your recommendations are not age dependent at all. i have food water batteries and comms to last me about 2 weeks and meds for 30 days.. am on a fixed income and a disabled vet. also have a firearm….ammo…and about $100 face value in “junk” siver dimes and quarters. best advice i can give older folks is to team up with a couple of other folks (of any age) on your block who also prep. if there are none than encourage others to join w/you to prep. as seniors we are not going to make it thru the SHTF by ourselves….we need a small group to survive. besides its more fun when others are involved. one other thing……get yourself a scanner that scans the 2 meter Ham band. Bearcat and GRE have them on Amazon for $80-100. i myself bought the GRE psr-100. with access to Ham bands you will be hearing the real truth about what is going on in your town. most of the Hams are also first responders and you will here the REAL truth about what is happening….not the government “truth”!! again there really is strength in numbers!

  16. Here’s a good one. Keep some beers in the fridge. My Grandparents have recently passed on but they lived a long , long time and had a pretty good life. I visited them but it was a little painful sometimes. Tea and Scottish mints are boring. Get some cold wobbly pops and the young guys will be over and ready to help!

  17. I am a woman, 77 and have been alone for 15 years. I could see all this coming, as I read a lot of history and
    economics. History repeats, and economics in this country has been a disaster in the making for some time.
    My advice is, no matter what age you are, go out into the country, buy, rent or do the mobile thing, but
    get out of town. It simply is not safe there.
    Get to know the rural people by attending Senior Center, Church, or whatever. They will take you under
    their wing, unlike people in town. Buy their produce, and stay healthy. Get off the pills and GM foods.
    Get yourself a pistol. You don’t have to be an expert. Pulling a trigger is not rocket science. It will make you feel safer just having one in the house, for “just is case.” Store some food.
    To all the older women. Stop being a wimp. Get up from in fron of the TV and take charge. After all these useless wars, there simply aren’t enough older men to go around. Learn to pray for strength.
    I did these things, and so can you. Good Luck.

  18. I’m only 42 but I’m already disabled, looking at the downhill run, watching my folks muttle through it. It was suggested by a couple of you that we should stick together. It would sure be nice to live with a bunch of other folks that would have trouble bugging out in a smaller city up in or near The American Redoubt. If we folks that are now on fixed incomes haven’t been able to afford a bug out location yet, chances are, we never will. So you do the next best thing. If you’re in a place you think will have to bug out, find some friends, go in together and relocate now. I realize that many of us have chosen to live near our families, and that many of them are tied to big cities for employment. We may not all be able to handle an assault rifle or a shotgun, but enough of us can to make a place a tough target. The rest can use .22’s.

    I agree also that most of us aren’t ready to lay down and die, but we also probably don’t want family to put themselves at great risk on our behalf either. Many of us have already lived long, fulfilling lives and have made our peace. I’m active in my CERT, got my amatuer radio license last year, and teach classes on preparedness in my community. I’m teaching one on 72-hour Kits (Bug out bags) this month and one on water purification in 2 months. Many of us are ex-military or ex-law enforcement or have other relavant life experience. There is tons and tons of stuff that we can do to prep that’s cheap or free. It would be nice to have a blog for senior & disabled preppers/survivors because there are so many of us and there is so much information that is unique to our situation. We face different problems and have different resources available than younger folks still in their earning years, yuppie survivalists and teen agers. I think many folks of other ages would participate because we have a lot to offer. Many youger folks are trying to prep for older, non-prepper parents and don’t know what they’re doing. We have to be smart about what we do, but we can still do an aweful lot.

    • anotheranoncomenter-

      Appreciate the comments and thoughts.

      Good idea on the website. Who know’s maybe one will be created….soon!


  19. I am not at all affiliated with him, but Selco over at had an interesting free post a couple of weeks ago about the role older people played in his SHTF experience. Basically he said the older folks with useful knowledge and skills did ok despite reduced physical abilities. “Oldtimey” knowledge such as herbal medicine, gardening, horses, knowledge of surrounding countryside, etc were so valuable to the younger generation that they could earn their keep in a survival group.

    I would recommend all preppers (especially older ones) learn valuable skills which the younger generations don’t take the time to learn. Skills and knowledge are often worth more than strength and guns.


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