A lot of the conversations in the preparedness community on tasks, supplies and equipment applies no matter what your age, but people in their senior years (50 +) have several things to think about that younger people do not. This is the first post in a series on Disaster Preparedness for Seniors that I hope you will learn from and enjoy.

Introduction

This post is going to be high level to frame the discussion on things that I will be diving deeper into in the next couple of posts. Also, these posts are not meant to deal with short, local disasters where power and utilities are only off for a couple of days. We will be discussing preparedness with respect to more long-term disasters that could last a few weeks or months. Please see my previous posts on Concerns with our Power Grid and Effects of a Prolonged Power Grid Outage to get a sense of what I am talking about.  If you are not a senior but have elderly family and friends, this should help you in thinking about talking to them about getting prepared.

Definitions

First, lets define some terms in case you are not yet familiar with preparedness.

Estate Planning – Creating legal documents such as Wills, Trusts and Power of Attorney and documentation of physical and digital property and other personal and financial information.

Disaster Preparedness – Identifying, procuring and organizing resources to reach a level of disaster preparedness that provides the capability you need to sustain and protect your family.

Emergency Planning – Defining potential threats and the tasks to complete before, during and after an event.

Evacuating – Evacuating means a disaster is imminent or has already happened and you have to grab what you can as fast as you can and leave without much of any plans as to where you will go or how you are going to survive. DON’T DO THIS!

Bugging Out – Bugging Out implies that you have thought about leaving in a disaster scenario, made plans on where to go, acquired equipment and supplies and can pack up and leave with everything you need in a short amount of time.

Bugging In (Sheltering in Place) – Depending on the disaster, if you are prepared enough and can deal with daily life on your own, bugging in is much preferable than leaving. You can’t take all of your supplies, equipment and personal items with you and in some ways, having to bug out can present dangers on its own.

Things That Seniors Probably Won’t Do in a Disaster

If you research Disaster Preparedness you will most definitely read about some things that a lot of preppers talk about that should not be considered for seniors. Here are a few:

  • Bugging out to the mountains and living off the land. A lot of younger, idealistic preppers think they will do this but it is not realistic. For seniors, mobility may be limited so more thought, planning and resources need to be applied to bugging out. Even if you have a lot of experience hunting, it may be tough to traverse rough landscape and climb up into a tree or deer stand if you have one. Bending over to dress an animal and then hauling it back to your vehicle or bug out location could be a very taxing thing to do.

  • Physically fighting off criminals to protect yourself, your spouse and the supplies you have stored. I’m 60 years old, in somewhat decent shape (well maybe), but I can’t imagine trying to physically fend off attackers. In a catastrophic and long-term disaster this will be an issue. You really need to think about this.

  • Bugging out on foot with a location that is miles and miles away. It is one thing to walk three or four miles in the neighborhood on nicely paved sidewalks, it is another to be humping it over land and through forests with a backpack full of food, supplies and equipment for survival.

Things Seniors Need to Think About for Preparedness

  • Seniors need a Support Network. Family, friends and neighbors that you can share your emergency plans and needs with. If you don’t drive you will need to make arrangements with someone to provide transportation.

  • Seniors are likely to have more health issues and take more medications. You should have copies of your latest prescriptions and phone and address information for your pharmacy and doctors.

  • If you are on a restricted diet, more thought and planning needs to happen in respect to your food storage.  

  • You may have medical equipment, walking aids and wheelchairs that need to be taken into account when preparing to bug out or sheltering in place.

  • Limited physical ability that may prevent seniors from doing some things well when the power is out for an extended period of time. Start exercising, walking, stretching or doing yoga. It will make a big difference.

  • Backup Power for Medical Equipment if there is a power outage.  

  • Some seniors may eat out regularly and are not accustomed to preparing and cooking food 3 times a day. If you are in assisted living and the power is out for a prolonged period of time it will tax the staff to keep nutritional food on the table so you will need to prepare for that.

  • If a disaster causes you to leave your residence then you need to have medical information, vital records, and contact information ready in a binder or attaché ready to go. There may not be time to hunt for this information.

  • If you undergo treatments at a clinic or hospital, you need copies of your records from them to take to other service providers that you have identified at your bug out locations. See if you can get paper and digital copies.

  • If you think that you cannot bug out and will have to go to an emergency shelter, you will have to minimize the things you can take and you should ensure that your bags and personal items are identified with your name.

Conclusion

Everyone should be prepared for catastrophic disasters so they are not dependent on the government and relief organizations. But for seniors it is probably more important because of lack of mobility and medical issues. If you are a senior or have a friend or loved one that is, I encourage you to start helping them to prepare.

If you haven’t completed your Estate Planning Documentation, recorded a property inventory or documented your medical information, our Estate Preparedness Forms Package helps you get this important task completed. There are a lot of checklists on the web that you can print out and write on but our forms package contains 26 editable PDFs and spreadsheets and resources that let you electronically record this information easily. It is only $26.75 and is a bargain for the value. Check out the details on our website.

Do you have preparedness questions that you would like answered in person? You can schedule a half hour, online video call with us for only $25. If you are interested, fill out our Contact Form and we will contact you with a time as soon as possible.

Some resources to check out

The Prepper Website is a fantastic resource on a wide range of topics on preparedness. The editor, Todd Sepulveda, curates the best preparedness articles on the web on a daily basis. He also a great podcast called the Prepper Website Podcast where he reads the best articles every week and provides excellent commentary on the subject.

The other resource is for medical knowledge and you can’t find any better professional info on the web than from Doom and Bloom run by Joe and Amy Alton. They have great articles, a YouTube channel and an online store with top tier medical supplies. Their book, The Survival Medicine Handbook, is a must have for your preparedness library.

Another book I recommend is A Reference Guide to Surviving Nature: Outdoor Preparation and Remedies by Dr. Nicole Apelian and Shawn Clay. Just recently read this book and highly recommend it.

Have a blessed day!

5 Comments

  • Andrew Parks

    Great introduction to a very serious topic. Most of us have parents or grandparents that we need to consider in our plans. I look forward to the rest of this series!

    • Chip Feck

      That’s the place to be. I recently moved to VA into an apartment until we can find a house away from the masses of people. I can’t wait. Are there any things that you are changing or adding to for your preparedness efforts as you are getting older?

  • FlaPrepper1

    I’m in my 50’s and even though I’m not walker/wheelchair-bound, it does make think about “senior” stuff in the future. Most of my prep plans are bug-in based. I do have a bug-out plan but it’s secondary. I’m glad my meds are just a multi vitamin. My biggest fear is one med my wife takes. Plan is to raid the pharmacy early in a SHTF for long-term amount of her med.

    • Chip Feck

      That is good that you are thinking about it. I have been for a couple of years when I started having issues with my knees and shoulder. So thinking about carrying a heavy backpack over rough terrain is a bit worrisome. I plan on bugging in unless there is a chemical disaster or civil unrest that leaves me no choice.

      Have you asked your wife’s doctor if she can get enough of her meds to have a month or so extra if deliveries stopped flowing?

      Thanks for contributing.

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