Prepping is Ageless

A question from a reader prompted me to write about this subject. So often we forget that other age groups besides the 25-45 age range are preppers. One reader posed this question:

“What are we older folks on very limited incomes to do? We can’t afford to go whole-hog on our preps, nor are we able – physically or financially – to have a bug-out location or to outfit our homes with elaborate security-enhancing systems. All I am able to do is add to my stash of food and water a little bit at a time: a few extra cans of food here, a few rolls of toilet paper there, one or two freeze-dried meals and gallons of water a month are about all I can afford. Please help with your advice on the most imperative preps to make now, and then what to add as I can manage it. Thanks so much for your outstanding and inspiring website.”

Firstly, I want applaud this reader for their wherewithal to do what it takes to prepare as much as their finances can allow. We all know how hard it is to make ends meet, and I do not believe that anyone can purchase all preparedness items at once – it’s just too much of an investment at once. Stockpiling food and items for your basic survival needs a little at a time is the first step to getting prepared and the best way stay within your financial budget. I want to encourage this reader to continue on stockpiling a little at a time. Trust me, you will have more than the average, unprepared citizen if you stay on the preparedness course. As for suggesting any further preps, it is difficult to do as I do not know how long you are planning on preparing and what items you have. If you haven’t already purchased these items, consider investing in the following:

  • A good water purification system
  • Good seasonal clothing
  • A good pair of shoes with good tread
  • Long-term food sources, such as easy to grow seeds and edible perennials
  • Jars and items for canning

I also wanted to mention that you can view the 52-Weeks to Preparedness series to view in-depth prep lists, preparedness advice on a number of different disaster situations.

The “greatest generation” is now at an age where their bodies have weakened and they may not be able to do as much as they are used to. As we age, one of the things we face is that our body just isn’t what it used to be. We may have sustained injuries or wear and tear, we may have a health condition, weakened joints, or we may have simply slowed down. This certainly doesn’t mean that the senior prepper is a burden, or that they shouldn’t even bother prepping. It just means that they need to prep differently.

Joints may ache, knees may creak, and backs may not be as strong as they once were, but by identifying your limitations now, you can take steps to make accommodations for them that will make life much more tolerable in the event of a disaster.  Levers and pulleys, wheelbarrows and dolley carts are just a few examples of tools that can make life much easier – remember – work smarter, not harder.

So how can we get older generations or even those with special needs to take special precautions to be better prepared and ready for emergencies? The first step is to be aware of the special circumstances that can affect a senior prepper.

Some seniors have chronic health conditions with special requirements. Medication should be stockpiled for things like high blood pressure, heart conditions, cholesterol issues, or diabetes, to name a few conditions. As well, food supplies should be purchased with dietary limitations in mind. You would not want to rely on high carbohydrate pasta meals for a diabetic or on high sodium MREs for someone with high blood pressure.

A senior prepper, despite potential physical limitations, is far more of an asset to any group than a detriment. People who have lived through the depression know more than a thing or two about stretching food. Our aging population is the key that unlocks the secret knowledge of yesterday that has been all but lost. A woman who learned to sew on a treadle machine, for example, will be the only one in the know if the power goes out long-term. A man who grew up farming without diesel tractors will have the knowledge of how to get those old pieces of non-motorized equipment up and running. The senior prepper comes from a generation who repaired rather than replaced.

If you happen to be a senior citizen who is preparing for the worst, begin now to align yourself with a group – consider reaching out to co-workers, congregation members and extended family. Keep in mind that younger preppers may have the strong back to get things done but you have the knowledge to teach them how to do it!

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published September 19th, 2012
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  • Tess, I think one thing most older preppers should do is admit and know their own physical limitations and then plan accordingly. For example, I broke both legs in a skydiving accident 1 1/2 years ago and still have severe ankle problems in one leg. In addition, I have a bad lower back. The back is better if I exercise it frequently and make it stronger. The ankle is less painfull with higher top boots and a daily dose of Ibuprofen. In my preparations I have made sure to include 3 pair of 8 inch lace up boots that I can tighten around the ankle, have extra bottles of Ibuprofen, and try to get off the couch and work outdoors as much as possible for the back. Will I be able to walk with my 72 hr supplies to my primary bug out location that is 100 miles away? Maybe, but at a slower rate over more days. So I need lighter preps and more food. My auto bag must also be complete to make sure I can get as far as possible to minimize the walking. Plan for the worst, hope for the best and reality is probably somewhere in the middle.

  • Jim

    i totally agree at 52 with arthritis a have had to plan accordingly and put into place now things that if I were more able I would have left until a later date, knowing I would have been able to still accomplish them. Now, I’m not so sure so I take my time and do it now. It annoys the hell out of me, it’s frustrating and annoying but it’s the way it is. By admitting the issues and dealing with them I think I maximise my chances for the future.

    good luck to you


  • BobH

    I think one of the most important things a senior can do to prepare for hard times is remember. Remember how to do and make things they used to do when there were no modern technologies and conveniences. Remember those simple meals with few ingredients. Remember what your family did to stay warm, stay cool, get water, heal the sick and take care of injuries. With that in mind, begin preparing with those simple items, methods and ingredients. If you survived with them before you sure can survive with them again. You have such an abundance of knowledge that younger people don’t have that you can actually be way ahead of the game when times get tough again.

  • I’m only 46 years old but 100% disabled and on SSD/VA so I do understand how tough it can be to prep on a fixed income. A few things that have helped me get prepared:

    Recognize you will need help. Especially young folks with strong backs. I can’t do many of the things I did before my disability but just having tools to share like rototiller, chainsaw and show someone how to use it is a great barter item.
    Cooking from scratch: This is huge as many of my generation and younger have no idea how to cook food without a microwave. This goes for preserving, baking bread etc.  I think you could be surprised the amount of labor you might get for a real Home-cooked meal. 
    You survived the 70’s inflation, Nixon and Carter. The Cold war, Viet Nam and Woodstock. You guys have lived through quite a lot of political nonsense and can help give a real history lesson to us idiot youngsters. 
    Many stores offer senior discounts or vetran discounts. Go shopping with a youngster and share the 10% as a way for paying the gas. Share the produce or fruit from your yard for someone mowing the grass. Or in trade for babysitting if you like that sort of thing.

    You may not make any extra money, but your knowledge and skills are beyond measure. You may not realaize just how dumbed down and incompetent my generation and younger really are as a group!

  • sally

    One thing that could be done now is practice scratch cooking and baking, canning, & dehydrating food now when you are calm and if you make a boo-boo it isn’t going to be the end of the world.   When things are still functioning in our so called,”normal” world you can work out the kinks and do whatever over and do it right, when SHTF your world is going to be upside down and learning to can for the first time is going to be stressful at best; but if you have done it at least once before the stress level will be far more manageable and sucessful.

    Looking at old recipe books and writing down recipes that call for few everyday ingrediants could also be a help since remember you will be cooking from your preps running to the store will not be an option.  Don’t forget to try some of thes recipes out now when you still have time to see if the family likes the.

    I know this may seem rather silly but learn a craft such as knitting or crochet, it will not only allow you to provide the simple things for your life such as socks, hats, mittens, & scarf’s but they can become very important barter items.  Oh don’t forget the cotton dishclothes these can be whipped up in a few hours and wallah instant barter power.  Yarn can be picked up at yard sales for a few dollars for a hugh bag so the expense could be minimal.  Lastly having something to keep your hands occupied is a great stress releiver and the satifaction of making something to fill a need is a good feeling.

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