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?


  • Comments (28)

    • 6

      as the great philosopher Neil Young said:

      It’s better to burn out than it is to rust

      Which more or less says everything not only about my philosophy but my age, LOL

      Seriously, as I mentioned elsewhere I’ve traded in the subsistence farm for a bank balance. The farm was great, when my kids were younger and not as settled elsewhere an economic calamity would have made it a lifesaver. But as I’m a little older and my kids are too, the likelihood that we’d all come together is less. 40 acres would have been a good size then, it’s too big now.

      We’re in a tiny town right now, fixing on a turn of the last century little Victorian. This may be a semipermanent location or a stepping stone to a smaller homestead—I’m not really a town guy, even tiny town. I like moving around, if not moving itself, and we make some money. At 64 I feel fine but can see a point in the future where I won’t want to be hanging drywall. Right now the real estate market has peaked, inventory is rising, prices will soon moderate as demand comes into balance. We will likely buy a little spot in the country in the next few years—don’t know what part of the country tho..

      I know that sounds like a lot of not-really-prepper talk but to me prepping is not just a shopping list or a storage shelf, it is kind of ubiquitous… right Ubique


      • 2


        Great Neil Young quote…yeah, I know the lyrics to his work too, also referencing my age LOL.

        Town living is not working for me either, however, it is hard to find acreage here. We had a lot of out of country investors buying up farm land and that drove the prices up. I still look for acreage and hope that there might be something. The way prairie towns are dying out here, a person could just buy up a vacant village and call it acreage. There are few such places I’ve encountered in my search, but I didn’t want the location.

        I have been building time lines in for the reno work on my current home. This item will last x amount of time or the house will need repainting in x amount of years. If I finally find an acreage, the same will apply. It’s hedging against the age futures market (groan such a bad joke).

        Ubiquitous (good one LOL). Prepping is indeed everywhere and in all facets of our lives.

    • 6

      LOL   – “not without my BOB” ! I’d tell the ambulance attendant to stop for pizza enroute.  I’m treating and this time don’t care if he or she has a few beers with the enroute snack.

      One specific aging factor did require me to make a change to my prepping. It’s hurricane season here and always carry a shavel and ax.  …. well, the ax has been replaced by a hatchet soas to preclude heavy swings.  Guidance from my M.D. of many decades – relates to prevention of heart attacks.

      Ref my peers; I rely ont he philosophy of King James of Magna Carta era. He conceeded he was now subject to a jury trial of his peers.  He added to his concession that those bum with mud all over their boots from ruining Runnymede, a wetlands area west of the big city, were not his peers.

      I do not care about others’ aging …. nor how I’m viewed.  So far, I’m here and helping out even though no more unloading trucks.

      • 2

        Good afternoon Bob,

        Hee Hee! Good one on stopping for pizza enroute. LOL

        I appreciate the tip on switching to hatchet over ax. I wasn’t thinking about that yesterday with that post pounder. It was too much fun using it. They have gas powered ones, but the manual pounder was great.

        King James understood that peers are our equals.

        People who invest of themselves in helping others are too busy to notice these things. Unloading trucks is a tough slog and not worth your back getting hurt.

        Age is a state of mind and I refuse to let the opinions of others change me into something I am not.

        “Age is not important unless you’re a cheese.” – Helen Hayes

      • 3

        Good afternoon Ubique,

        Believe I made a mistake.  Wasn’t it King John working with Magna Carta ?

        All peers did not have the support of the Pope.  The King did have his initial support.

        Like George Orwell explained a little later in “Animal Farm”: All animals were equal but some were more equal … “

        I like the Helen Hayes quote !

      • 1

        Good evening Bob,

        I made the same error. It was King John. The Magna Carta failed after civil war broke out and King John failed to honor his obligations under the Charter.

        Animal Farm is a great book. You can still see it played out today, just with different characters.

    • 6

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

      My 40s & 50s were spent accumulating.  During this period we bought the rural 20 acres & turned it into a homestead.  I accumulated enough stored food for my family to handle an extended crisis.  Then I realized I couldn’t survive if my neighbors were hungry, so I accumulated more gear, more food & more garden seed.  I put in an orchard with around 150 trees plus blueberries & muscadines.

      Now that I’m in my mid 60s I primarily maintain what I have and try to finetune what I have.  Let me tell you younger folks.  You will have a plan & it probably will be a great plan… but you will have made mistakes.  Some things just aren’t going how you would have liked.  That is when you finetune.  You don’t quit, you don’t cry… you just get to work solving the problems.  A big example of that is my orchard.  I have too may apple trees and apples can be a tough crop to grow due to all the pests & diseases that attack them.  So I am constantly trying new varieties plus trying new fruit trees, such as jujube.  By the time I’m done, I probably will have changed out the vast majority of the original trees.  If you look at any of my orchard pics, you will notice a mix of very mature trees all the way down to tiny trees planted just this winter.

      When we bought this place, the plan was to have something to keep me very busy during retirement.  I knew it would be tough to do everything while working full time but I had a plan.  Retirement is around a year away and I know what I’ll be doing on that first day and every day after… working outside.  Hopefully I’ll have some really nice years ahead but if not… oh well.  I accept whatever comes my way.  But if I’m able, I have no intent on wasting away in some home.  I’ve seen enough of that.  My final plan will be to go out my way.

      • 4

        Well said Redneck!

        May your and Mrs Redneck’s years ahead be happy and productive. You have worked hard to achieve your goals and may you enjoy many wonderful years. 

        Regarding the apple trees, are you able to trade them with a nursery or other person who gardens for other trees or plants?

      • 2

        No, I can’t trade.  Takes some special, expensive equipment to move mature trees.  Also, almost no one grows apples anymore… especially in the south.

      • 1

        Understood. I wouldn’t grow apples either if I lived in the south. I would grow peaches, acres and acres of peaches.

        Applewood is good for smoking bacon and other meats.

    • 5

      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.” — Funniest thing I have heard all year!

      As I have gotten older, I realize my limits and abilities and that I need to rely on others for some things. I am not as spry as I used to be and if you don’t get your mind around it, it can bring you down and you will become bitter. I have had my “get off my lawn you whipper snappers!” moments, but I try to be the nice old guy on the block.

      Durin a minor disaster, I do have neighbors and family who will help the women, children, disabled, and elderly first. But durin a long term emergency, I have come to grips that I may be lost and forgotten.

      • 4

        Hi Roland,

        Glad you enjoyed the “BOB” line 🙂

        What you said about needing to rely on others got me thinking. If we look back at our lives, pretty much all of us have had to rely on others for some things throughout our lives. So, I guess that is part of being human at any age.

        LOL on the “get off my lawn you whipper snappers!” moments. I’ve been there but with a broomstick banging on my gutters to scare off the pigeons next door. The noise sounds like a gun going off. I don’t want to know what the neighbors think right now. I can only imagine. LOL

        I wonder if there are others in your neighborhood who feel the same way about being lost and forgotten, but have never spoken to anyone about it? 

    • 5

      While I’m young in age, I am old in body and am a testament to your quote up above “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.”

      I was a strong and very able bodied young man with a whole world ahead of me until my spinal cord injury left me paralyzed below the waist. This change in my life has certainly made me feel like I’m in my 60’s at times. 

      With this setback in my life comes vulnerabilities, inability to do certain things, and having to change the way I prepare. 

      My BOB now has to include a bike pump, spare inner tubes, extra padding for when I sleep, and other things related to my disability. My body has to deal with chronic pain and tightness. I can’t hike up and over that mountain, so now I have to learn alternative routes and figure out ways to get around things. So many things to consider and plan for. 

      I was watching a documentary about soldiers the other day and saw these elite men in their prime giving their life to serve their country. But many tweaked their back or knee wrong in a training exercise and now their life in the army doing what they were doing is over. They are discharged and have to go down a new path for their lives. Getting old is tough and frustrating as Roland mentioned here as well, but that gradual change of ability probably can be more manageable and tolerable than losing it all of the sudden like some of these soldiers have. May we remember their sacrifice today. 

      • 5

        Hi Gideon,

        The spinal cord injury you suddenly sustained is a clear example of how quickly our lives can change.

        As I read your reply, I considered the scope of what you had to change in order to adapt to your new circumstances.

        Sometimes the people we meet have adapted so well to their changed circumstances that we forget how much adjustment and grief was necessary to do so.

        It takes every ounce of a person’s ingenuity and resourcefulness to find ways around things. Not everyone who faces a life changing accident is capable of this, but your reply says it all: You persevered, you learned “alternative routes” and figured out “ways to get around things.”

        You didn’t let the multitude of things you had “to consider and plan for” stop you from living your best version of your life.

        The soldiers in the documentary can draw down on their military training to help them navigate their changed circumstances. I am glad that you told us about them in your reply, and because of that, I will remember their sacrifice today.

        I will also remember you Gideon, and how you met the challenge of a spinal cord injury with courage, grace and incredible resourcefulness. What you wrote today helped me and others to understand the challenges that spinal cord injuries bring to a person who has acquired one.

        Thank you very much for sharing your experience. It will help many people to perservere.

      • 6

        Ubique, your reply is too kind.

        I am grateful for my prepping background and feel like it helped me push through to where I am today. I saw that accident as my own personal disaster or SHTF (it truly was) and instead of just rolling over and letting it affect me I said to myself that I will survive this!

        This prepping lifestyle and mindset has so many life lessons beyond just waiting out a hurricane. It makes you a better and stronger person to overcome even the little challenges such as a project at work. 

      • 4

        Hi Gideon,

        This is amazing – as I was working outside today, planting the vegetable garden, it occurred to me that prepping has benefits beyond being prepared for an unknown future event.

        I read your reply and there it is! You articulated what I was ruminating about today.

        Your prepping mind set and background was the training ground for surviving your “personal disaster” (great term btw). The prepping lifestyle can help for coping with the threat of a personal disaster (rumors of job loss for example. Having a pracical prepping mind set could help reduce the stress. 

        I used to think it was martial arts training that kept me disciplined and on tract with certain aspects of life, but are reading your post tonight, it is clear that prepping is a great influence on our lives as preppers.

        Thank you very much for that insight.

    • 4

      Great topic, Ubique. “Not without my BOB” brought a laugh. You might want it etched on a wrist bracelet in case you can’t speak when the emergency responders arrive.  🙂  

      Two things came to mind, things that have been mentioned in the forum before. I’m in my 60’s also (can hear Neil Young in my mind). I prioritize physical fitness and devote effort and money to pushing myself within reason and also always noting where I have limitations. For example, having terrible bunions, I am not going to be hiking very far without making my situation worse.

      During covid times, I carried on with exercise classes on Zoom. One was geared for seniors and was too easy, except it taught me good body mechanics. One was geared for people decades younger, and it taught me what young, agile, strong bodies can do and how quickly they can do it (and what my knees or wrists or ankles can’t do).

      The combination of classes was good because when something got too easy, I substituted movements from the tougher class. When something got too tough, I substituted movements from the easier class. I want to push myself just enough, but not too much. I find that I need to literally see what that looks like by observing others. I have a hard time imagining it on my own. That’s a reason not to live an isolated life.

      The second thing that came to mind was my recent move from a condo in the country to a small town. I’m choosing to become less physically and socially isolated as I get older. I remember that I was good at the game called Dodgeball when I was young. My strategy was to blend in with the largest group of kids until I was the last person left, not to dart away from the group and hope that my agility would save me. Life is only partly like Dodgeball on some days.

      • 4

        The wife keeps tryin to get me to exercise. It just gets harder and harder as I get older and older.

      • 3

        Hi Roland,

        It can get harder to move and exercise as we get older. It’s nice that we can take our exercise a few minutes at a time if we need to. Five minutes of exercise adds up throughout the day.

        What worked for me was to find things to do that I enjoyed. I didn’t think of it as exercise, but thought of it as having fun.

        Most of my exercise is walking. I like walking in nature and seeing all the wildlife. There are lots of birds and deer here. Oh, and one really cranky beaver in the bay area of the lake here. He was out there today, slapping the water with his tail. I couldn’t figure out what got him riled up, but he was making quite the noise. Maybe one of the pelicans landed too close to him.

      • 2

        I’ve never seen a beaver before, that must be a cool experience.

      • 1

        I have been gettin out and walkin more lately. It feels good and maybe there is somethin to this exercise

      • 4

        Seasons4,  I can see it now: the new medical alert bracelet for preppers.LOL

        I like your idea of using two different levels of exercise classes on Zoom, and substituting movements between the two classes as required.

        I also find the challenge of being a self-contained person is avoiding isolation as I age. Your Dodgeball analogy is a great way to describe it.

        In retrospect, I can see how I grew to consider music, books, writing, nature and companion animals as my friends.

    • 3

      I have started learning more about DIY health care. I have had some experience with medical personnel who say ageist things and do not follow through with testing. This has been in the past two years, seeming to coincide a bit with turning one decade digit older, and has been more than one physician (while others have remained appropriate in their comments, thankfully). I had one emergency room visit that ended with a scan that showed what would have been found if it had been addressed about a year earlier in a setting other than the ER. As for keeping as well as I can, I have added some supplements I might not have had an interest in if I thought I could just reliably “go to the doctor,” put in more greens and veggies for healthier eating as well as for any SHTF scenario, and I try to pace myself when I need to so that I don’t end up wearing myself out prepping!

      • 3

        I’ve caught many a doctor skippin out on testin or other procedures that should have been caught. You know your body best, learn up on what you are goin through and hold your doctors accountable.

    • 4

      the way i adapt at 73 years old is I look at what my wife and I are doing and the good results we are having on our 5 acres,  and not letting what there is to do overwhelm us it will all get done in order of preference one job at a time, sitting on our veranda at the end of the day having a beer and admiring what we have not letting imagination run wild of we could have . appreciation is sometimes not really valued but it can make for a happy soul and when we are  happy with what  we are doing it takes half the effort .

      • 2

        We hired a company to come do fire mitigation for our property and they arrived with 6 guys and popped it out in an afternoon. They all were havin so much fun. Made me jealous of their career. 

        Wish I had taken a job that I enjoyed in my youth. Maybe I wouldn’t be so gray as I am now if I had enjoyed what I was doin like you said.

    • 2

      I am helping others start prepping. As I have all the “stuff” I can possibly store in my two bedroom, one car garage condo, I am now helping others start the prepping journey. I purchased some use baby goods the other day (another grandchild on the way) from a young family. When the dad heard why I was looking for more baby items, he gave me several more useful, expensive items for free. We got to talking a bit, and now I am going to gift him and his family with a basic BOB from all the extra stuff I have. 

      Pass along the knowledge and others will be there to help as we age. 

      Great topic, thanks for starting the conversation. 

      • 1

        That’s a great story & an inspirational outlook!