The Plight of the Senior Prepper

Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: August 24, 2021
The Plight of the Senior Prepper

There are all sorts of prepper’s.  Some are rank beginners and others have been practicing family preparedness for twenty years or more.  Some live in urban areas and some live in the country.  And most assuredly, some are young adults in their twenties and other are in their sixties, seventies and eighties.

Given this widely variable demographic, it stands to reason that some preparedness topics will be more interesting and more useful to one group than to another.  On the other hand, the basic tenets of emergency food, emergency communications, first aid, self-defense and self-sufficiency are universal.  Furthermore, there are no boundaries and no set requirement that a person be interested in each topic equally.

Plight of the Senior Prepper | Backdoor Survival

We are talking about family preparedness here, not rocket science.  And while we are each unique, we are each the same as well.

Which gets me to the topic of today’s article: The Plight of the Aging Prepper.  I have a bit or a rant so please bear with me while I explain.

Senior Preppers Do It All

Being a baby boomer myself (born between 1946 and 1964), I find it a bit offensive to find that many websites refer to “senior” preppers as doddering old people with limited vision to what is happening in this world and limited ability to fend for themselves.

This stereotype is simply is not true.  Many in the over-60 crowd walk 2 to 5 miles daily, work at full-time job, and actively pursue hobbies that require strength and endurance.  Others farm their land and while living on or off grid, chop wood, feed the chickens and milk the goats or cows, day in and day out, rain or shine.  Not only that, most men of that age have served in the military and thus understand and embrace the need for teamwork, discipline and perseverance to get a job done.

References to being an older prepper who may be slow on the draw is just, well, not right and darn disrespectful.

Survival Concerns – Regardless of Age

Regardless of one’s age, the pursuit of survival does come with some concerns.  Some of the major ones are listed below:

Nutrition and diet with limited food sources

Healthcare – both treatment and prevention – when conventional medicine and medical facilities are not available

Money for supplies, services, items for barter and the basics of life

Self-defense using lethal, or non-lethal weapons (or both)

Mobility for the physically disabled and those with hearing and vision challenges

Community and companionship when if it all goes to heck

Learning from Our Parents and Grandparents

The current trend within the survival and prepping community is to look back to the experience of those that lived through the Great Depression.  Well guess what?  Many a senior prepper lived through it, if only as a child.  Now might be a good time to ask these senior preppers how they dealt with these survival concerns.  It is a forest through the trees thing: if you lived through it, you may not recognize the value of that experience to others.

I don’t want to belabor the point so let me just say this:  being old of age does not mean you are weak of mind, weak of body and weak of spirit.  Quite the contrary.  The older prepper has a lot to offer and is stronger than you might think in at least one of these areas if not all three.

The Final Word

It has been a long time since I have written one of my passionate little essays.  Clearly, something set me off and yes, it was another prepper-oriented website.

If I do nothing else today. I want to reinforce that the senior prepper has indeed woken up to what is going on in our country and our world.  They are quite capable of taking care of themselves.

On the other hand look around: there are certain able-bodied twenty and thirty something’s who, at the mention of an election, at the mention of self-reliance and at the mention of making a difference in this world look up from their texting and say “huh?”.

So you see, there are all types of people at all different ages.  We are a community of preppers and we are strong.  Let us drop the stereotype and get on with the business of preparedness.  We will remain strong as long as we stand up tall, young and old together.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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36 Responses to “The Plight of the Senior Prepper”

  1. I am also a senior. Many times I have told my younger sister (also a senior) that I wish I knew one tenth what our grandmother knew. Unfortunately, our grandmother passed away in the seventies. So, I suggest that any readers who have elderly grand parents, go sit and talk to them! Some will have minds that wonder, but the gems of survival information will make it worthwhile. Ask them questions! “How did you make your money streach during the war?” – “How did you live without electricity / air conditioning / refrigeration / running water / etc” – – You might be surprised at what you learn!

    • Well said Jim. For those that don’t have grandparents living try the senior center in your town. Most serve a good lunch for a reasonable price and you can meet active seniors that would love to talk to you.

  2. better to be underestimated, and have the edge of surprise, than to be totally figured out. . . . exploit the supposed “weakness”-use it as a strength.

    • Rick, I agree!! Funny, but most younger folks don’t think about what to do in emergencies. They are busy making a living, raising a family, and accumulating toys.
      I said most…..and I think I am right. Some may think about preparing, and some may actually take steps toward that goal ( which is never ending ). I think it’s us seniors that have time to research, and prepare for any emergency…not just catastrophic
      I am not …unhealthy, really. I have a few dings and things that happen with age, but my brain and wits are still in operational. If nothing else, I’m here to assist those who haven’t done anything for emergencies. I don’t have most of the Prepping gadgets, but still I think I have a better chance than many.

  3. Good points. I was thinking the other day how those of us who are Baby Boomers, and younger generations, know little of the deprivations of the first Great Depression and World War II. We’ve had it pretty good. Those who came before us tried to make things better for themselves, and for us as well. We’ll have to learn new lessons about adversity.

    • My parents both lived through the Great Depression. We lived on a ranch quite a ways from the nearest town and it was a very small one at that. While my parents did try to make sure we had things better than they did, they also made sure we knew the value of hard work and a dollar. We worked on the ranch, earned our “allowance” (when we got a dollar or two) and were taught how to live off the land. We always raised our own meat, hunted and grew our vegetables. We traded meat for fruit that we could not grow where we lived. Those learned values will never leave me and will serve me well when SHTF.

  4. I’m minded of the old saying:
    Too soon old, too late smart.

    I would love to ask my mother about these things but at 94, she can barely say hello and then will forget who you are. As a small boy, I vaguely remember watching her ‘darn socks’. I tried it the other day and now I know why they use the term ‘darn’! (smile)

  5. I think that many seniors have a clearer view of the world than the young. We have seen more and I don’t think we are as likely to believe that everything will be alright just because that is what the media/government tells us. We know to research what we are told, and form our own opinions. But we all need to work together and we can find common ground if we make the effort. So when I give my son-in-law an awesome “fubar” for Christmas- I can just say what an awesome zombie tool this would make- and everyone is happy and I put an excellent piece of equipment in the hands of one strong enough to use it. And since he is now talking about getting a place in the country and going off grid- I think my words/actions are finally beginning to make sense to him.

  6. Gaye, obviously, the person that wrote that article doesn’t know not to piss off a cute little red head!! 🙂
    I would love to read (& comment) to that article you read. As a “Boomer”, my observation of younger people I know will be the 1st to go. If we die, my wife’s kids might survive as they go through our stored food and read the directions I have printed out in my absence on what to do and how to use my equipment. Seriously, kids today just think our endeavors are crazy. When I was younger, I truly did listen and learn from the “OLD” people. They were just down right brilliant. I do wish I could go back in time to discuss more issues with a few people I knew. Admittedly, I am not as fast and strong as I was in my 20’s, but knowledge can make work easier.

  7. Papa J – if it were permitted I’d give you a “thumbs up”.
    I didn’t mean to imply that I learned nothing from my parents or my grandmother, but I know there is a ton or so of more things I could have and should have learned. Unfortunately, there was only one grandmother and no grandfathers around when I was growing up, my sister and I were the youngest of 6 children and only 3 of us are left alive.

  8. Thank you for this! I just turned 50, and am being introduced to the joys of being a senior man tomorrow when I will undergo my first colonoscopy, and so this article is of particular interest to me. I must admit that I do have concerns about how I would weather TEOTWAWKI at my age. The aches and pains of being this age certainly would test the physical demands of being an older survivor, but my faith is that the wisdom of being this age would hopefully even the playing field. Thank you again for all you do.

  9. There are advantages for senior preppers just the same as there are advantages for young preppers.

    We understand the importance of health and strength and because we are aware we can focus on those areas we may need to improve. Many with years behind us have had the opportunity to practice living without the conveniences, losing things we care about, repurposing sturdy items, growing something, canning, saving and using odd things, fixing the broken and generally making do at some point.

    But most importantly we had the opportunity to know and listen to the seniors of our youth. Yes, there were survival tips mixed in the stories of the depression but best of all was the fact there were also glimpses of thriving. Neighbors that helped each other, rolling up the rug and putting furniture in the yard so they could dance inside, homemade gifts they treasured enough to pass down with explanation, etc. Never underestimate your value. Where ever our preps are otherwise we can surely be prepared to be the voice of reason and HOPE!

  10. Wow! Thank you for this article! Those of us who have not been through the depression, have been through hurricanes, winter storms, and many, many power outages.
    If nothing else, who will watch the children while you walk the perimeter, build fires and try to fend for your family’s survival? Who can have the patience to hum them to sleep, to entertain them with games that require no plugs? And who can usually cook up something from practically nothing? lol
    It’s our job to help them make it to where we are.

  11. Regarding pepper sprays – it is important to compare SHU (Scoville heat units) as a measure of how “hot” the spray is I carry the Fox brand 5.3 million SHU also is the spray a stream or fog or does it have a foam carrier – Kimber make a Guardian that does not use a spray but discharges a pepper round that is made for the general population

  12. I have to chuckle as my dad would have. In my family we have an abundances of redheads and like me, many who have the complexion and temperament but not the red hair. LOL I’m thinking your hubby must be like my dad, so he balances you.
    I get to celebrate my 64 years of living on this earth this year. As is my custom, which I do in January and June, I take stock and add a bit more to my wisdom acquired by my years of experience. I’ve learned to do this by “being the mouse in the room.” I was that girl who snuck into the room and just sat and listened as the old folks talked. One thing I learned then and have seen in action is it takes ALL types of people with various skills and experience to get on with life. I’m still a young senior, even so, I’ve had some experiences which many had in the depression. I’m very thankful for those experiences and as I have lived, I’ve taught them in “camping” situations. Even so, I’m upgrading those experiences with current information. Soon I’ll be taking CERT training so in the event of a disaster, those more able bodied can get out and do while I keep those ‘home fires burning’.
    Gaye, wherever you read that article, chuckle too because the author obviously hasn’t a clue on what oldies can do. lol I do mean chuckle. Do you remember in the 60s when our generation thought you couldn’t trust anyone over 30? Now look at us! Just accept this author was telling you more about where he was in his growth and focus than he was actually knocking seniors. It was out of ignorance he spoke thus. 😉 We, seniors are the gift to our communities especially if technology fails in the coming collapse. 🙂

  13. My (and my wife’s) parents taught us well. We live frugal, but very comfortable lives. Do our own canning, baking and rarely use any “processed” foods. One issue is that is rarely discussed are disabilities. While I can do quite a bit, some physical tasks are beyond me. Therefore, I work to make thinks as easy as possible. My commuter “go bag” holds a fold-up cane, as well as, extra warm clothing and extra food, in case i have to walk home (a 3-5 day journey on good days). I recognize that we no longer have the stamina of 20-year-olds and plan accordingly. Living in the woods for weeks on end is no longer an option.

  14. As a post-60 senior, i am very pleased to know some of the simple skills that may prove equally as valuable in survival as strength and endurance. Skills like: being able to read a paper map, doing math problems in my head, knowing east from west from north from south without the benefit of an app, being able to convert tsps to gallons, and so many other “old people” skills that many young people seem to be deficient in. I may not be able to out run my juniors, but i can grow a garden and mend torn clothes. And i have learned the very important concept that time is often ally and that instant gratification is not a reality. I think i will do equally well when put to the test.

  15. Thank you, Gaye. As a senior myself (62), and still working full time and prepping full time, I could not have said it any better! I’ve spent my whole life doing things for myself, instead of paying someone else to do it. This means I have skills that some younger folks don’t even know exist. But, I don’t look down on them for it. Rather I offer to teach anyone willing to learn. And one more point I would like to make, there are a lot more of us, than there are of them. And they will be one of us someday!

  16. From what I have found, the prepper demographic is actually older than one might think. At least this is true for the demographics of Prepper Webiste. I did an article on How different generations view preparedness on ed that matters. It was interesting.


  17. i’m glad i had parents and gparents that lived through the depression. growing up on a small farm we repurposed everything. at least we had the freedom to thrive or fail. some of my children are waking up and returning to our roots. yhis is my goal, pass it on so the next gen can thrive.

  18. It has been my experience that to some degree age is a state of mind. I’ve found that at 62 I can do almost anything I could do at 32. Last spring I installed a new roof on my home. My brother sent his son’s over to help. When it came time to carry the shingles up the ladder none of them were prepared physically. It seems that carrying a 100 lbs. on your shoulder was beyond their ability. Out of the 105 bundles that had to go up I ended up carrying 78.
    Like my grandma used to say “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight that’s important, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” She was 95 when she passed away and put in a 2000 square foot garden the summer before.

  19. Being a senior prepper myself, I can say that prepping skills have been part of my life before I knew I was a prepper. For years I have canned food, stored food, gardened, practiced my rifle skills, etc. When I try to interest younger people in learning these skills I am scoffed at. Whether there ever comes a time when these things are essential or not, the blessings of being self sufficient are far reaching.

  20. At 70, I am happy to read this post. While I have some physical limitations, my mind is quit sharp. Thank you for defending us!

  21. Coincidentally, those who survived the Great Depression as children (the parents of Baby Boomers) were likely raised on more home-grown fruits and vegetables from gardens. So they ate better; fresh non-GMO’d food. That was also a time when a much larger percentage of Americans were farmers, or lived in small farming communities. I’m 59 now, but if I was young today and wondering what to study after high school, I would pursue farming. Feeding people post-collapse will be much more important than computer programing or designing websites.

  22. It makes me feel good to read all these comments from the old toots. A speaker in church this week said she would like to go back to when she was 8 years old. She spoke of all the good things associated with being 8. At 8 “I knew there were things I didn’t know, but I didn’t care.” We are taught to become as little children to get into heaven, so I was about to adopt the “I know there are things I don’t know, but I don’t care” attitude. These comments make me feel better about being old. OK Gaye, keep bringing it on. We all have things to learn.

  23. i will turn 61 in just 6 wks, but my mind says i am still in my 20’s…i can out think & most of the time out work the youngsters at work (LOL). Over the years i learned from my parents( mom is 97 now & her mind is gone),siblings( i am the baby of the family)my parents friends, the farmers who gathered daily outside the gas station in the small town i grew up in to have a coke & trade info with each other, the old folks at church & on the rare visits with aunts & uncles & grandparents( we lived 800 miles apart). I learned how to take care of my home from making repairs myself & advise from the hardware store experts, gardening from mom & dad,cooking & baking from mom & sisters & my years as boys scout leader(yes i even learned how to cook in a dutch oven from the boys). I have tried to pass on my knowledge to my kids, in the hope that they will be able to survive if SHIF happens. I can function in both worlds, the Tech & the off grid… i can use a compass & read a road map or use a GPS…grow my own or buy at a store…yes i am a jack of all trades ….as many of my age are…and hope that youth of today become what we have become…” Hats Off ” to all the seniors…

  24. Thank you for this post and all the comments. I’m 72, run a small farm with animals. I teach Blacksmithing at our local museum. I’m a 20 year retired Army officer. Prepping is part of my life and I help others develop prepping knowledge. I would recommend looking in the arkives of your local museums. Many of them have sections containing info on how things were done long ago. I found many books on cooking during WW II. Many parts of animals that we would be repulsed by today were shown to be made into delicious meals. Back then you had to use points to buy some food. The idea was to use less points so you would buy lower quality of meat and learn to make it delicious. On the flip side take a course from your local extention office to up date your canning info. many of the old canning procedures could get you into trouble. Keep up the good work.

  25. At 81 I completed an 11,000 mile trip last year from Florida to California, Washington and return. All with my little beagle pal at my side. I am in perfect health but am not sure if I can take the crap big brother is shoving down our throats for another 18 years. Thanks for your hard work. Every little bit helps in this struggle for survival.

  26. I don’t really consider myself a Sr yet but am 51 YRO. I am very fortunate to have been adopted by my maternal grandparents at age 15. I learned soooo much from them! My grandmother and grandpa were two of the hardest working people I’ve ever seen. frugal yet fun loving. The biggest lesson I learned from my Grandad ( amongst other stuff ) was to suffer in silence and never bitch. On his death bed he confessed to me that he hated his job of 34 years and he NEVER said a word in all those years. Imagine my surprise. My Granny was one of the happiest and outgoing people on earth and one heck of business lady and great cook. I listened to their stories and experiences of survival during the depression and learned a lot.

    One of my most favorite people is an 84 year old business owner who has tremendous knowledge. I cross the street to his business once or twice a week and visit with the old guy. I listen closely and ask lots of questions and always walk away with some tidbit that I store away for future use.

    What ever happened to respect for the elderly?

    Anyway, I can’t do the back breaking work of my past ( carpenter/millwright ) so I hire out a lot of chores around my place and hire out younger healthy folks to do some of the heavier work. I pay them well and try to mentor them in prepping or giving advice which I try to do by saying ” I understand what you’re saying but could I make a suggestion?” This is usually well received.

    It’s a two way street my friends. I like to listen to my older friends and their experiences and that 18 YRO lawn mower kid can teach me new apps on my phone or computer.

    It’s wonderful to be so much more thoughtful and practical than I was at 25!

    Snake Plisken

  27. I’ve watched Doomsday Preppers and want to get more involved in prepping in my community, but I’m scheduled for surgery in Febuary! I have bought some food supplies through Frontier Natural Food Coop that are quite good but I’m wanting to get together with some others in my community for the purpose of becoming more self sufficient. Any comment would be appreciated! Thanks Doug Lass

  28. being 59 now means that i don’t work ‘strong’ anymore. but it does mean that i ‘work’ smarter. so that i don’t have to work as hard!!!

  29. I have been going thru some of your older articles since I’ve recently discovered this site and I have to laugh. I have been “preparing” all my life in some form or another from what I have read here and on other sites. We, DH and I, were brought up by parents that were “Depression” babies. We made do, used up and recycled (before it became popular) all my life and I (hope) DH and I have taught that to our sons. Both of them know how to cook good meals from scratch, sew (and knit)and clean,as well as fix things, use hammers saws,etc. Sorry ladies, they’re both married to wonderful women, who are very grateful that we did teach the boys how to take care of themselves.
    I don’t talk about what I have been doing because the people around me think “prepping is for those survival nuts”. I too wish I could meet like minded people where I live.So I can actually talk to others, Don’t get me wrong I love the sites I’ve found but sometimes it’s just great to talk to another human “face to face”, know what I mean? Thanks again for the great site!

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