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Survival, prepping and ageing (and we are all ageing)

I keep a running list of prep related topics on my desk, beside my computer. Ideas and thoughts are jotted down and crossed off as they are written about.

This topic has been on my list for a while now. I tried ignoring it and even regretted noting it. I didn’t want to write about survival, prepping and ageing as the sole domain of a 55 plus topic.

I added “and we are all ageing” to the topic title, because this topic is for all of you, regardless of your age. Every day, we all age.

I wanted this post to be for everyone because every day if you are alive, you are ageing. The issue of ageing is one that must be considered by preppers. There will be needs and priorities that change with age and this will affect how you prep.

None of us know how long we are going to live nor how we are going to age as time passes.

We hope to remain vital and independent, until one day, when we are really old, they roll us out of our home feet first and straight to a funeral home. Instead of a long drawn out death in a care home or hospital, our bodies had the good sense to pack it in while we slept, thereby avoiding any pain or awareness of our death.

Some days when I feel much younger than my years, I think my final, feisty words to the ambulance attendant will be “not without my BOB.”

It is necessary to understand how ageing affects us from without and within in order to prepare and cope with the changes that happen as we age.

Age is relative, like money, power and beauty. The similarity among all of them ends there. 

Age marches steadily on from the time of our birth. Regardless of our place in society, power, beauty, wealth or lack of thereof, age is the great leveller on the playing field we call “life.”

There is also the issue of ageism to contend with. One day life is normal but one birthday too many, and people are treating you like the village idiot. 

Ageism is usually accompanied by its nasty buddy, patronization. For those who haven’t had the joy of this experience, just wait. The first time someone calls you “ma’am” or “sir,” your head will spin around to look for whom they are talking to.

One day you will hear the words “at your age” or “you’re doing well for your age” directed at you. Those words aren’t compliments. You have just been categorized and neatly filed away into someone’s mental “cabinet of preconceived notions.”

At that moment, you will realize that people are making judgements about you because of how you look. It will hurt because you know they will go no further to actually get to know you. You have just lost a part of your identity and entered a shadow world, where the aged are treated differently and often barely tolerated. 

You also realize that it is happening sooner than you thought it would.

There is a part of you that worries about how you will now be regarded in a disaster by preppers and non-preppers alike. It is what I call the “ice flow” moment, where you see yourself gently floating down the water on a chunk of ice because the tribe of survivors no longer considers you of any value.

Age does not necessarily bring wisdom any more than youth experiences the best years of their lives. But age can bring experience, depending on the life one has lived. The history of the person, their experience, is the greatest teacher. If they happen to be wise and can offer insight about their experience, consider it a bonus. Not everyone learns from their experiences.

It’s amazing how age can assert itself when you least expect it.

When my husband and I work on projects outdoors, people notice. This time I actually had a neighbor from the senior’s apartment across the street comment: “I don’t know how you do it. I could never care for a property the way you do.”

It was nice to hear the compliment, but he doesn’t realize how conscious we are that everything we are able to do today could be gone tomorrow. One stroke, or other health issue could change everything. That is true for all of us regardless of our current age.

In the last several days, I planted annuals and we put in a 7-foot garden fence. It was a long, nonstop push to “get ‘er done” before the forecasted high heat arrives.  We lugged heavy weight, shovelled and drove posts in with a post pounder.

As I drove the post pounder down, I wondered should I be doing this at my age? It’s a ridiculous question. Instead, I chose to focus the sheer joy of physical labor in the fresh air.

“Should I be doing this at my age” is a question that you will find yourself asking throughout your life. It originates from the “committee in your head.” They are an opinionated, judgmental little group consisting of every negative comment ever directed at us or that we have directed toward ourselves. It is criticism and judgement personified.

As I worked outside the years fell away, and I felt like I could do this forever, that is until I stopped working for the day. That’s when the pain and reality set in. Then I rested and went out and did it all over again the next day. The alternative is to give up the pieces of myself that function because of muscle soreness and a cranky back. 

One of the hard parts about ageing is observing how your peers are ageing. I look at people in my peer group and it isn’t so much about how they look. It is more about how old they act. It’s like they have given up on living and are just waiting around to die. They are teaching me because of how they are choosing to live through their experience of ageing.

Prepping as we age is about adaptation. It is knowing when to adapt in our youth in order to avoid injury that can cause problems like osteoarthritis later in life. 

In the garden, I realized that the raised beds need to be raised much higher, like trug style planters for salad type crops. I need to alleviate the strain on a prematurely arthritic back. (Note, you can acquire physical conditions that are normally considered age related at a much earlier stage of life.)

I use positional changes as I work to avoid straining certain parts of my body. Walking it out intermittently as I work helps to prevent strain and injury.

My future plans are to raise certain items, like the refrigerator, for easier maintenance. I plan to avoid falls and minimize stair climbing by revamping storage upstairs. Moving items to and from the basement to the main floor will be handled with a simple basket and pulley system.

Some days I wonder if there will come a time when I make a conscious choice to stop prepping. 

I don’t like being vulnerable. Prepping has represented independence and strength to me. I hope to stay prepared and vital to the end and adaptation is the best chance for me, and you, to do so.

How are you adapting and changing your prepping as you age?

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