I’m An Older Prepper – How Do I Get Prepared?
Strategies to Prep in Old Age
A Word for the Young and Old Prepper
When people think about preppers, they usually have in mind a young, athletic, energetic person. The “typical” prepper is someone who can swing an ax, carry a bugout bag for days in full tactical gear and who can leap tall buildings in a single bound. There are some preppers who might fit that description, but there are many who do not. In fact, there are many who would more than likely fit the description of a grandfather or grandmother type. There are many senior citizen preppers out there who know the importance of prepping and want to do what they can to be ready for SHTF. But, for these “seasoned” citizens, there are some considerations that other preppers don’t usually face. These older preppers might be dealing with being alone, disabled, on a fixed income or just physically in a place where they can’t do everything that younger preppers “think” need to be done. An older prepper wants to survive and they should, because they have a lot to offer the Preparedness Community.
In my capacity as the editor of Prepper Website, I have heard from many older preppers over the years. They have either come to the realization later in life that our world is fragile and there is a good reason to prepare or they have lived a life of preparedness but something is keeping them back from prepping the way they used to when they were younger.
A Good Majority of Preppers Are Older
In a recent Prepper Website survey, 45.4% of respondents said they were 60 or older. Out of that number, 25.9% were 65 or older. When you consider many of the articles, videos, and podcasts out there (and I see a lot of them), I don’t believe the Preparedness Community is considering the age of many of those who prep or who have a desire to prep.
But again, we come to the fact that many older preppers are dealing with some challenges. Let’s explore some of those in this article and then some possible solutions to help older preppers become part of a M.A.G. or survival community.
Older Preppers Need to Consider Their Physical Ability
As we age, it’s hard to imagine ourselves not able to do the same physical activity that we used to do when we were younger. If our minds are intact, we tend to think that we are more physically fit than we truly are.
Although I’m not a “seasoned” citizen, I have already experienced this with my eyes. A few years back I was conducting a meeting on campus. I printed out documents that I would need to fill out as we talked with parents. As we waited for everyone to arrive, I made the comment that the printer was printing out blurry. One of the teachers jokingly handed me her readers. Being the jokester that I am, I folded over one of the sides and held them up to my face. To my amazement, the writing became clear. It wasn’t the thing I wanted to admit, but my eyesight needed a little help. Since then I have used low-powered readers, but I have noticed that I grab for them more and more as time marches on!
One of the things that older preppers need to do is to admit that they can’t physically do everything they used to. This is important because it starts to take some normal prepper activities off the table, like building a bugout bag. If an older prepper can’t physically carry a pack on their back and walk (if the bugout required it), then that shouldn’t be part of their plan. Should they have a plan for bugging out if they needed to Yes! But, it shouldn’t include a heavy bugout bag.
It’s important that older preppers stay realistic about their physical ability. As they do, they can truly start problem-solving their preparedness as they start putting into plans realistic goals and objectives they can reach.
Older Preppers Sometimes Feel Isolated and Alone
Another challenge that faces seasoned preppers is that many times they feel alone and isolated from others. And although the idea of the lone wolf survivalist has really been put to rest, many older preppers feel they are just that, coupled with the lack of strength and physical ability of a younger survivalist. This feeling of isolation happens to older people in general because of a few reasons.
One reason is that families don’t live near each other any longer. Kids get married and move across the country. Parents are lucky to see their kids and their grandkids if the family gets together for holidays. Or, kids are selfish and start living their lives without any thought to their parents who raised and cared for them all those years. It used to be that parents took care of their kids, then kids took care of their aging parents. This isn’t true for all, but I have seen this scenario play out in people I know.
Another reason older preppers feel isolated is that they might feel like no one cares or like they have nothing to offer. They slowly drift away from the friends and communities that they knew so well, into a type of hermit lifestyle. Again, this happens slowly, over time. By the time they know it, they feel alone with no contacts out in the world. It becomes easier to sit on their comfy chair and watch TV all day, rinsing and repeating.
Older Preppers Might be Disabled or Have Medical Conditions that Makes it Hard to Prep
Besides dealing with the fact that their physical ability might not be what it used to be, an older prepper might be dealing with a disability or a medical condition.
Some seasoned preppers are dealing with a disability or medical condition that makes prepping twice as hard. It can be something that causes them to not be able to walk for long periods, to needing a machine to breathe. This causes the preps that are necessary to go to a whole new level!
The seasoned prepper might not just be concerned about food storage and having enough water, but they might need to prep for expensive medications, machines that require power and ways to stay cool. This level of preparedness can be very stressful and can cause an older prepper to lose hope and feel that preparedness is too far a goal to grasp.
Older Preppers Usually Live On a Fixed Income that Doesn’t Leave Room for Prepping
A true fact is that prepping costs money. Yes, there is a lot of stuff you can do for free and there are budget items that you can buy to add to your preps. But ultimately, there are going to be things you need that require money. And when things are already tight and you are on a fixed income, that is a serious problem.
“The median income for seniors 65-74 is $36,320; if you’re over 74 that drops to $25,417 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And 12% of those 65 and older are living at the poverty level.” SOURCE
And to add insult to injury, older preppers know how fragile our economy is. As they see prices go up and the power of their dollar go down, they live with the realization that there isn’t going to be a “raise” or that they will ever be able to have more money than they need. They wind up looking for ways to save a buck here and there and cut back on expenses, sometimes things that they need.
So How Can Older Preppers Who Are Facing These Challenges Prep?
The advantage that a seasoned prepper has over a younger prepper is wisdom and experience in life. Older preppers have years of life experience under their belts. They have “seen” things. Older generations were educated differently than kids are today. They are the sons and daughters of those who went through the Great Depression and were more than likely raised with less than kids nowadays. A seasoned prepper’s mind is one of their most powerful resources.
But even with this, there are things that seasoned preppers can do to help them along in their preparedness. The rest of this article will deal with some solutions.
Old Preppers Need to Build Community
This is the bane of prepper existence! Every prepper, not just the older prepper, wants to belong to a survival group or a M.A.G. (Mutual Assistance Group). The problem is that there isn’t a Yellow Pages of Prepper Groups that you can call up and join. And if there was, it wouldn’t work anyway!
Groups need to be formed along shared values and concerns. If they are not, the first major decision will divide the group and all the time and effort getting prepared will go out the window.
Instead, older preppers need to be purposeful and build their community from the ground up! Yes, you heard me say that correctly! Older preppers can grow their community, group, M.A.G. or whatever you want to call it from the ground up. It’s not hard, but it will take time, effort and determination. The alternative is to go it alone! And we’ve already determined that is not an option!
How to Build a Prepper Community
One of the best ways to bring like-minded people together is by teaching a class. You read that correctly! An older prepper, or any prepper for that matter, can bring people together by offering preparedness related classes. Let me explain this further.
For this example, I’ll use a church. But this could easily be done at a community center or any other place that will open itself up for the public to hold meetings.
An older prepper should approach the pastor or whoever is in charge of outreach and let them know that they would like to teach classes on how to save money and be more self-sufficient. These classes will be open to the public which will allow non-churched people to become familiar with the building and possibly want to attend. Of course, church materials will be available close by.
Once the seasoned prepper has received approval, the community needs to be informed. This could be done through the church newsletter, community newspaper, signs put on street corners or hung in the windows of the neighborhood store, going door to door or whatever. A little bit of research on how community programs in your area get out there will point you in the right direction on how to proceed.
Topics or classes can be anything from saving money, cooking, gardening,canning to sewing. The point is that the classes are valuable to the community and people know about them. Topics can be repeated and if there are topics that an older prepper would like to teach on but they don’t have any direct experience with it, they would then research it and develop a class around it.
An Older Prepper Should Sell Preparedness and Build Relationships Too
As classes are being taught. The older prepper should make it a priority to do two things.
First, somehow, the older prepper needs to incorporate terms and ideas of SHTF or “hard times” into their lessons. For example, the older prepper might say something like, “This is a great skill to have. My parents told me about this story when they were going through the Great Depression and how they learned to get by with…” Or, something like this could be said, “Knowing some basic first aid skills can come in handy. With health care costs going up, you want to know if something is small enough to take care of at home or if you need to go to the emergency room.” The purpose is to get the people that are attending your class to think about how fragile our world is.
The second thing that an older prepper needs to be doing while they teach their class is to build relationships and make friends with those that are coming. They want to build their circle of friends and at the same time, evaluate the ones that could become a future member of a M.A.G. or survival group.
Again, this isn’t hard to do. It just takes time, effort and determination. But it is an excellent way for an older prepper to build community and friendships with those who are like-minded. And, in time, they will be seen as someone who has a lot of knowledge to share and offer to a M.A.G.if things ever went south! Who wouldn’t want the person who taught the self-reliant classes at church to be part of their group?
Some excuses that might arise from this idea might be:
‘I am disabled and I can’t move very easily.”
Yes, I said this was going to take time, effort and determination. Unless an older prepper is bedridden or has a health problem that doesn’t allow them out of the house, they can get out there. Even an older prepper in a wheelchair can teach a class. There is a way to do this!
“I don’t have any money to teach a class.”
You don’t need money to teach. However, if an older prepper does need props or examples, they could borrow items from others. They just need to ask around. Eventually, when they become known and have a few classes under their belts, they might see who might be interested in paying $5 or $10 for a class so that they could purchase materials.
“I really don’t have a place to meet.”
Many communities have places for the public to meet. But if an older prepper has done the research and there is nothing in their local community, then they could hold classes in their living room. Yes, there is a lot to say for OPSEC and safety and security. But remember, the purpose here is to find a group that can help each other if the SHTF. If the older prepper is concerned, they could have someone they trust there to help them feel more comfortable.
“I wouldn’t know what to teach.”
Any topic on helping others become more self-sufficient will be helpful. And the internet offers a ton of free information that can be gathered and disseminated easily. Topics could include: gardening, sewing, saving money, budgeting, canning, food storage, water storage, how to make a fire, how to create a bugout bag or get home bag, how to develop an emergency preparedness plan, how to put together an emergency binder and how to make your home as safe as possible.
Older Preppers Need to Know What They Have to Offer a M.A.G. or Survival Group
Many times, we sell ourselves short. We don’t realize that we have a lot of knowledge and skills to offer others in a M.A.G. or survival group. This goes for older preppers as well. In fact, an older prepper who is a little depressed and doesn’t have any hope might have an even more difficult time realizing that they have something to offer. If you stay depressed long enough, it’s really hard to see past it!
Older Preppers should take the time to write down all the skills and experiences they have. They should take their time doing this and leave no stone unturned. For example, an older prepper might not think that cooking is a skill. They might just think it is something that is done because people have to eat. But many people don’t know how to cook from scratch anymore. Many people buy processed items from the store or boxed, quick fix items that only requires water, a pot, and a stove. Cooking from scratch is a very helpful skill that would be beneficial to a group.
After the older prepper has made their initial quick list, they should then think back to the seasons of their life and think about all the jobs they have held. Skills that they might have only used in past jobs, but they haven’t thought about in a while, could then be added to their list. Don’t disregard any skill, no matter how small you think it is!
Finally, older preppers could ask friends and relatives the simple question, “what do you think I’m good at?” Family and friends might think it is a weird question, but the older pepper could just say they were reflecting on an article they read. The information that is shared can also be added to the list. The point is that we don’t always realize all the things that we can do. Sometimes it takes someone else to tell us.
When this process is through, the older prepper will have a list of skills and knowledge that will help encourage them and help them realize that they do have much to offer to a M.A.G. or survival group other than being another mouth to feed.
Older Preppers Need to Not Give Up
Finally, one of the things that older preppers need to do is not give up. I know this is easier said than done. But when I hear from older preppers, I can almost sense in the tone of their writing that they have no hope and they totally expect to die within days of SHTF. That doesn’t have to be!
The human spirit is strong and the desire to survive is great. However, as I mentioned above, one of the things that can happen in the life of an older prepper is that they get depressed and lose hope. Years of living like that can take its toll!
If you are an older “seasoned” prepper and you are reading this, you need to know that you have a lot to offer and there is still a lot of life in you! Don’t give up! You have spent years “surviving” the rat race and have skills and knowledge that you don’t even realize you have! Get up and get moving. Don’t allow your current state to dictate the rest of your life. You’ve made it happen before, now make it happen again. You have time and experience in your corner right now. People are counting on you! You might not know them yet, but they are!
Final Recommendations to Young Preppers
If you’ve been reading this and you don’t consider yourself an older prepper, here are a few recommendations that you should consider.
If you have parents who are older, you must include them in your preps and find a way to help them in an SHTF situation. Think about your spouse and how your kids will feel and respond knowing that the world is falling apart and grandma and grandpa aren’t with them.
If you are putting together a group to face SHTF, consider adding older preppers. Give them jobs. Make them responsible for communications (manning the HAM radio), planning and organizing, putting together information and inventory, gardening or whatever else their physical ability can handle.
Take time to value and just listen to older people. Take them lunch. Get them out of the house. Show them that you care.
No one really knows what SHTF will look like. We can read the books, watch the movies, know history and read experiences from others who went through it in other parts of the world. But when it happens here, we don’t know exactly what it will look like.
We do know that this world has gone through many SHTF times. Nations have been destroyed and whole people groups have been scattered. Yet, the human race survived and eventually thrived.
Ultimately, we are going to need everyone to help and contribute to the survival and well-being of our loved ones, of our group. In that time, everyone has value, even older preppers.