There’s no point in denying it, as we get older we face more and more hardships with our health. But that doesn’t mean we need to let a chronic illness hold us back from being prepared. My grandfather was a carpenter, and we’d often find him tinkering around in his woodshop, despite his arthritis and problems with moving one side of his face - he suffered a stroke a couple of decades earlier that wreaked havoc on his body.
But in spite of this, I’m in awe of how mobile he remained right up to the end, and while he’s no longer with us, I was surprised at how many “modifications” he’d made around his home to ensure he would remain a survivor, as well as all the lessons he taught us to be as self-sufficient as possible. With this post I’d like to share a few of the things he did, just in case it can help anyone else with a chronic illness better prepare for the dark days ahead.
Stockpile necessary meds
Seriously. When supply chains go down, you don’t want to be caught without the medication you actually need. We found an entire cupboard shelf in his panty that contained almost a years’ worth of his prescription meds, plus many over-the-counter varieties of everything from painkillers to antibiotics. If you don’t have the medications you need for your condition, you’ll be in big trouble when the SHTF.
Build your food supplies
Most older survivalists won’t be able to put themselves through the rigors of bugging out, or even scavenging for food, so it’s important you’ve got a supply already stockpiled. When we got down to the basement we found tins of baked beans that expired in the 60s, drums of rice and flour, and even a beer making kit he was in the process of cooking up a batch of. It was incredible to see such a giant stockpile of food.
Be ready for defense
On a similar line of thinking is to be able to actually protect what you’ve accumulated over your life. Now his arthritis meant he wasn’t able to handle big caliber weapons anymore, but there was a locked gun cabinet in the bedroom with a vast array of pistols, rifles and even an old tommy gun in amongst all of the old ammunition. More than enough to put up a fight against anyone trying to break into his home, and with a couple of magnetic mounts to ensure a firearm was always within easy reach.
The right bug out vehicle
What my kid were particularly excited to see in the garage were the quads. Two machines, that I noticed had been fitted with extra gas storage and racks for strapping a bag, one that was already half-packed with outdoor. With his SUV parked in the drive, it was clear Grandpa was still using the ATVs to get around and up to his cabin, which we had always planned to use as our bug out location, and he wanted to ensure he was never left behind.
Remember your age
One thing I was particularly impressed with was the vegetables growing in his greenhouse. Grandpa was a big gardener when he was younger, but there’s no question the years caught up with him. Instead of lamenting the loss, he had us help him build a greenhouse, so he could still “potter” around in the garden as he always said, but without the hard, physical labor of digging. He loved being able to water everything with a turn of the sprinkler.
Don’t let fitness fade
My grandfather would walk circles around the neighborhood for 2 hours a day. Almost religiously, he’d be out first thing in the morning before breakfast, and then again in the evening after dinner. With a military precision, it was an old habit he formed when he first became a parent - as he didn’t want his fitness to fade. When he did have the stroke I remember the doctor mentioning it was his good level of fitness that sped up his recovery.
Be active in the outdoors
Getting outside in the sun and fresh air is a wonderful feeling, and one thing I vividly remember is that he’d always take us to the park, or out fishing as we got older. I learnt how to fly fish from him, and we got to enjoy the additional benefit that after most of our expeditions we’d have a fresh feed of fish to enjoy later that night. Looking back, I realize this was yet another lesson that would teach us to be a little more self-reliant.
Overcome your weaknesses
With his hearing fading and after missing a visit from us one afternoon, we were surprised to find he’d adopted two little terriers on our next visit. I found out later he was extremely embarrassed, but chose to overcome his weakness by getting two of the yappiest dogs he could find. He knew that whenever they started going barking, running in circles and basically going crazy, that someone was either in the yard, or approaching the front door.
Have someone to call
Finally, and probably most important of all, is to ensure you have someone in your corner. Someone you can call if you need help, assistance or anything else. Especially if you’re living by yourself. Community is a big thing, and while we could never visit more than once a week, my grandfather had a couple of life-long friends he would spend time with, every day. They were also the ones who let us know when he took a turn for the worse, and we were able to make it over in time, giving us the chance to see him one last time before he passed.
Now I know this message is a little somber, and I wanted to write it in his memory because I truly believe that age, or whatever health limitations you have will not limit your ability to survive. With the right preparations, you can thrive, no matter what disaster comes your way.