Can You Ever be Too Old to Prep?

Are you ever too old to seriously consider Prepping? At a certain age, is there any point anymore? These are good questions that I have heard before but I received a comment on the blog over the Christmas holidays from someone asking me something very similar to this. His question/suggestion is below:

Are you ever too old to seriously consider Prepping? At a certain age, is there any point anymore? These are good questions that I have heard before but I received a comment on the blog over the Christmas holidays from someone asking me something very similar to this. His question/suggestion is below:

You guys should do an article on the issues of an aging prepper! At what point does one opt to stand his ground because, physically, he/she cannot cover much ground? Food for thought. Looking forward to the possibility of an article such as this since I’m 50 yrs old and prepping like I’m 20. What one puts in his/her bug out bag may be sold because age doesn’t allow for running.

I started to ponder this note and began to respond but I thought that there might be other preppers who had the same question so I decided to write my thoughts and observations about this topic and see if we could get some responses from you on this reader’s question as well.

What is prepping?

So let’s start with the framework of this question and that would be to wrap a definition around prepping. In order to discuss whether or not someone should do anything, we need to have a shared understanding of what the thing is. What is Prepping? To me, prepping is a lot of things, but at its most basic; Prepping is simply the act of recognizing potential threats to your health or safety and acting proactively to minimize either the threat or the severity of the consequences of that threat. Even that definition seems too complicated but I think it’s accurate. Webster’s breaks this down to the basic “to make yourself ready for something”. That could be dinner or a date or painting a wall, so I will stick with my definition in the scope of the current culture of Prepping for now.

damnation-alley-vehicle1The word prepping has so many connotations today from a lot of sources, not the least of these is Doomsday Preppers. Preparing for some version of your own private Doomsday is certainly a valid exercise and excuse to Prep. Don’t get me wrong – I love watching that show but the difference to me though is that the people highlighted on Doomsday Preppers are not indicative of most Preppers. Frequently when you say Prepper, the first thing that comes to some people’s mind is the guy in his Mad Max, bullet proof, wood gassifier fueled bus blowing through a barricade of flaming cars. That simply isn’t realistic to the majority of people who consider themselves Preppers, in my opinion.

Back to the definition of prepping – perhaps it’s even simpler to say Prepping is just getting ready for bad stuff to happen. Bad stuff has been happening to people since man first walked on Earth so it makes absolutely perfect sense to me to do what you can to make sure the chances of it happening to you or your family are lower.

What does youth have to do with Prepping?

So onto the crux of this article, what does youth have to do with Prepping or to paraphrase my friends specific question above, ‘what point do you stand your ground because you are too old to run’. A lot of the ideas and concepts we so cavalierly discuss with prepping are honestly derived from military tactics, actions or skills and you would think a lot of Preppers have watched a few too many Rambo movies. We talk about Bugging Out, which is essentially strapping a big bag with all your supplies on your back and walking into the sunset. We talk about defending our homes from bad guys or hungry people who want your supplies and fighting off marauders with an arsenal of semi-automatic weapons. We frequently discuss making a stand and living completely self-sufficiently in the face of anarchy or economy collapse. This is the stuff of movies and Armies, which are usually made up of our youngest and most healthy people. Do you really expect the average 60 year old woman (I am generalizing here) to strap on a 50lb pack and walk 75 miles through the woods to get to her hidden retreat in the woods? Does the average person have a secret retreat in the woods? No.

Some of the more physical aspects of the prepping dialog seem skewed to younger people. I have written a couple of articles in the past on the subject of making sure your Bug Out bag isn’t so heavy that it gets you killed and my own personal beliefs on whether or not you should entertain the concept of Bugging Out in the first place. If you don’t take age into consideration, it would seem that from all the indications on the TV shows, we should logically all be planning to go on forced marches into the woods to take up defensive preparations against some unknown enemy. Why else would just about every Bug Out checklist have a shovel in it?  I think that may be necessary in one possible worst case scenario, but I for one am not making that the first thing I worry about. There are far too many other more likely scenarios I am preparing for first.

With age comes wisdom, perspective and hopefully knowledge. I can remember easily just how gung-ho I was in the Army when I was in my late teens and early twenties. The song 10 foot tall and bulletproof comes to mind but life has a way of teaching you lessons if you are willing to learn. Now having blown past my own 40th  birthday some time ago I think I have a different outlook on a lot of things.

Can you ever be too old to Prep?

The simple answer is no, but how you prep should change with your age and your physical ability. That’s just good common sense. Let’s take overall physical health out of the equation and simply focus on age. I know that there are some women in their 70’s that could probably out bench press me and I personally never want to meet a woman who can do that. However, the average woman in her 70’s is not as strong and does not have the same endurance as a woman in her 20’s. It’s the same way with men. I know there are some 50 year old men who could run circles around 18 year old’s, but they aren’t the norm.

As you get older, unless you spend a heck of a lot of time working out you will be able to do less than someone half your age. When we talk about bugging out and hiking into the woods, you have to analyze what that reality looks like for yourself. Could you do that? Do you want to in the first place? Now, just because you can’t or don’t plan to bug out into the wilderness, does that mean you can’t do other things to prepare yourself or your family? Not at all. In fact, I would argue that the overwhelming majority of things we ‘Preppers’ like to recommend are easily done by almost any person, in relatively any physical condition.

Just take a look at my top four most important items (Food, Water, Shelter and Security). The goals that I think each and every family should strive for are easily achieved no matter what your age is. Everyone has to eat and drink water, so this doesn’t change as you get older neither does your ability to do this (eat and drink) just as well as the young whippersnappers. Older people are usually in better shape when it comes to having a place to live and can afford or have already acquired the basic firearms recommended for personal security. If you only master these 4 areas alone you will be better off than 99% of all the 20 somethings in the world should we have some type of disaster or SHTF event.

Age shouldn’t preclude you from planning a bug out bag either, but what you pack in there and how you should expect to use it should be relevant to your age and fitness level. Unless you are bedridden, you have the ability to prepare, to improve your health, increase your chances of survival and your own personal prepping situation.  Don’t ever let age make you think you can’t do something –  you can. You just might have to use that wisdom you have worked so hard to achieve to come up with a better plan for yourself.

To finish, I am not for a second suggesting that anyone in their 50’s should resign themselves to a life of Ensure and sitting in the recliner watching Matlock reruns. At 50 you have a lot of advantages over people in their 20’s when it comes to prepping. You just have to realize your strengths and play to them.

  1. Well, being 74, in relatively good health and shape, my wife and I have been prepping in some form all our married lives. We have downsized our living space to something that can be heated easily and is not located in an urban area. Prepping for us now is being able to have heat for long periods, adequate food which is easily to prepare, we have our own well and live on a pond, have a propane generator that has kept us in electricity for as long as 7 days,and both of us have become very handy with handguns and rifles.
    Life is great.
    I would not know where to bug out to. Everything I need to live with is where I am now.

    1. What the heck am I doing and what’s wrong with me?

      I can’t seem to walk into Sam’s these days without throwing a 20 pound bag of Basmati rice and 12 pounds of dried pinto beans into my cart. I get numerous emails advertising great deals on water filters … I have half a dozen now …. but will buy more just because they are a good deal. Walmart … forget it …. I always walk out with two more 12 packs of toilet paper and 6 boxes of pasta! I have now put away 600 pounds of rice in vacuum sealed bags, unknown bags of dried and dehydrated beans … and more hot sauce than should be legal to own.

      So what’s wrong with that? Well for starters, my kids are grown, have their own families, and live many hundreds of miles from me. I have a small rescue farm and raise chickens, ducks, goats and the usual smattering of dogs, cats and wild critters. The driveway is ¾ mile long and we have maybe a dozen neighbors spread out over several miles. Still no problem? Well … it came to me one night in a vision ….. I’ll be 70 years old next year. I have enough toilet paper to last a lifetime … for a 20 year old with bowel dysfunction. Maybe they can line my coffin with it instead of that expensive fake silky stuff they use. At least when TEOTWAWKI arrives, I’ll be able to take comfort in knowing the bathroom is properly outfitted. Never mind that the septic tank is full and I forgot to have it pumped out … I forget a lot these days.

      I cannot stop putting stuff away. They call it “hoarding” on one of those TV shows made to embarrass people who are frugal and save stuff to be fixed one day. Maybe it’s wishful thinking to buy freeze dried canned food with a 30 year shelf life at my age. I like to think I’ll eventually eat it in peace, in the brightness and comfort of electric lights and the warmth of the propane heater while watching reruns of Red Skelton on the wide screen TV.

      I can no longer lift the ammo cans full of 5.56 and .45 and 12 ga. 00 and my grand kids aren’t around to help. So the cans sit where I left them 5 years ago and I just live my life around them. I love to shoot and have a wonderful open range with a terrific backstop for any caliber … but find it harder everyday to walk down and back up the hill from the shooting position. Gunfire doesn’t bother me much these days since my hearing is so bad!

      Today I finally cut that annoying dead pine tree that I’ve been staring at for a year. Hauled the 20 foot trunk up in the yard with the tractor and chainsawed and split it into 18 pieces for a friends camping fire. Won’t he be surprised that somebody 15 years his senior is doing the work. No neighborhood kid with a man bun and LL Bean woodsman shirt came over to help … I know they could hear the chainsaw or…. maybe it’s the dozen or so “no trespassing” signs – but I’m guessing. Nonetheless, a youngster missed a great opportunity to learn something.

      I used to make my own laundry soap and spend 35 cents to make 2 gallons … but the didn’t like it because it didn’t smell right. So now it’s back to a $15 jug of chemical laden goop that smells pretty. OK, I didn’t win that one, but got some bargaining chips for when I see a “can’t pass up” deal on water filters. I know I don’t have enough filters. So 6 filters, each of which will last for 11 million gallons is a good deal for a guy who needs (according to the experts) a gallon of water a day … the same guy has a prostate the size of a grapefruit and only pees a teaspoon at a time… so 11 million days of water is probably enough. How much is 11 million days in dog years, anyway?

      I’ve tried to share my limited wisdom gained over 70 years of life with some of my neighbors. The idea was (I naively thought) that if the S did hit the F one day and the local gas station raised gas from a respectable $2.25 to $15 a gallon … that the neighbors might participate in a ‘let’s all get together and save ourselves’ party. When I found out that most of these folks could name all the Khardashian family members out to 3rd cousins, and didn’t know the each state has some Senators … my idea of community unity fizzled. Probably just as well in the long run since mouth-breathers talk an awful lot of trash and I only have enough toilet paper for the immediate family … and not enough of anything to share.

      Have to stop now … there’s a big sale on at Walmart.

  2. I’m older, disabled, and not in the best of health, but I’ve been prepping for many years and will continue. I prep not only for myself, but for my family & friends, in the hope that it will help them especially if I don’t last too long. What I lack in physical stamina I make up for with knowledge that the youngins don’t have. I envision that after I’m gone they’ll be thanking me for the preps I made, and some maybe eating their words.

    1. Thank you for your comments!

      I for one hope there are so many others like you. We have forgotten ways that were too common at one point and I have already told my Mother in law that I will be leaning on her farm experience should anything ever happen. I told her that I will take care of her (food, shelter, security) and she can help me take care of the livestock and garden. Together we can all make it through and each person has skills that are invaluable, regardless of age.


  3. At 80 on an island (with a small hospital) in northern Maine I figure I am in about as safe a place as I can get. Food and fuel stockpiled, short wave radio and a good library of books I have read and ones I haven’t read yet. I am in God’s hands.

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