I don’t know about you, but I’ve read a number of post-apocalyptic novels over the years. It’s always interesting to see the authors’ take on what the world will be like in the aftermath of a disaster, even if the disaster they use as the premise for the story is a bit contrived. Most think the situation through fairly well, giving their take on what their story’s characters will be faced with and have to do to survive.
While I can always find things I disagree with in these books, there is one troubling common theme which I can’t disagree with. That’s the high fatality rate of seniors. Amongst humans, and even in the animal kingdom, seniors are the most vulnerable part of society, other than small children and babies.
What makes seniors vulnerable is a combination of failing strength and failing health. Today, most senior citizens take a handful of medications every day, each of them intended to resolve or at least mitigate some health problem or other. Without those medications, many would die considerably younger than they do now.
Failing strength, and for that matter, failing stamina and flexibility, are all part of growing older. The human body wasn’t designed to last forever and as we age, it starts breaking down. Some scientists have said that the process of dying starts at about 20, because that’s the point at which we stop growing and more cells die every day than are born.
The problem with this is that in most situations survival requires a lot of strength and stamina. I can’t imagine the hardships of elderly people trying to bug out on foot. Even if they could walk the distance, they would be slower than the rest of their party and probably wouldn’t be able to carry much of a pack. So even if they could bug out, they wouldn’t have what they need to have with them, in order to survive.
So, what can senior citizens do to ensure their own survival in the wake of a disaster? There are three basic things that they need to concentrate on:
While the human body starts breaking down through the years, we don’t have to let it go to pot. Many of us are in much worse health than we should be, simply because we don’t eat right and exercise. Extra weight, poor muscle tone and low stamina are all things that most of us can control.
Proper diet and exercise will go a long way towards keeping ourselves healthy, even as we age. Take a look at Chuck Norris, Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger sometime. Arnold is the youngest of that group, at 69, with the other two over 70 years of age. Yet I defy anyone to take them on in any contest of stamina or strength.
Granted, the three men I just mentioned have spent their lives conditioning their bodies, and we probably haven’t. But there are also many unknowns out there, who didn’t start exercising until after retirement and still have strong bodies into the 90s. If they can do it, we can too.
Seniors have special needs, such as the medications I referred to a moment ago. Of course, paying attention to my first point, about taking care of your body, will reduce your dependence on them. High blood pressure and high blood sugar, two things that tend to plague seniors, can both be controlled in most cases by simply losing weight.
Leaving that aside, if you need medications, you need to have a stockpile of them on hand. That may be difficult to do, as most doctors won’t write a prescription for a year’s worth of medication, or more. However, if you have a good relationship with your physician, you might be able to talk him into it, if you can explain why you want to have it on hand.
If you can’t do that, then there are still sources that you can look into for your medications. One is to buy them offshore. There are a number of Canadian pharmaceutical house which ship prescription medications to the United States via mail order. The other possibility is to buy them in Mexico. The Mexican pharmaceutical industry is wonderful and the prices are extremely cheap for most things. If you live near the border or have a chance to travel there, it would be an excellent opportunity to stock up.
There are two other options to consider. One is to buy veterinary grade pharmaceuticals. Most of those come from the same laboratories that sell the ones made for humans. You just have to find out the equivalent names used for those medicines.
The other option is going herbal. The roots of modern medicine are herbal medicines, with many of our drugs actually being artificially created versions of chemical compounds found in nature. So going back to the original plants that those medicines are derived from simply means that we are using natural medicine, rather than artificial medicine.
Of course, this requires learning about herbal medicine, so that you’ll know what to use and where to find it when the time comes. But if you put the effort into learning it, you’ll have a skill which will be highly valuable in a post-disaster world.
Finally, seniors need to join a survival team, rather than trying to make it on their own. This might be a hard sell, especially if the senior in question already shows signs of health problems. But seniors have something that those teams need, knowledge. Every survival team requires that each member have some skill to contribute to the needs of the team. Seniors typically have several.
There are probably things that most seniors learned in their childhood or through their lives which are not in use today. But those very skills can at times be the exact skills that are needed for survival. Offering those to a survival team is a sure key to open the door.
Amongst my dad’s many skills, he was a blacksmith, something that is a lost art today. Yet in a post-disaster world, that skill would be invaluable. In order to rebuild society after such a disaster, we will need people who know how to fix and build things. The blacksmith is essential, as they are the ones who made the tools that people used to farm and work in times past.
Take a moment to write down all the skills you’ve learned through your life. Then look at that list, with an eye towards survival. How many of them apply to a grid-down situation? There are probably several. But if not, don’t worry, there’s still time to learn. Find some skills and learn them, to make yourself valuable to a survival team.
In the mean time, keep your powder dry and your survival equipment close at hand.