6 Unique Challenges Aging Preppers Face

The world is an uncertain place for everyone these days, and the future can be especially daunting for older folks. Still, everyone must be prepared for disaster and the potentially dangerous moments that could occur in the future of our world. As an aging prepper, you must take stock of your health and limitations and then create a plan to overcome them. Here are some unique challenges aging preppers can expect and ways to start your preparation now so you’re ready for anything.

1. You’ll Need To Think About Health and Medicine More Than Others

Since you already have the prepping mindset, there’s a chance that you may have kept yourself in reasonably good shape over the years. However, the fact remains that as you age, you’re likely to face health problems that you may not have had in your youth. So you must be prepared for the chance of an unexpected health issue springing up. You need to know how to take care of yourself in case there’s a traumatic event and you can’t rely on a visit to the doctor to make you right again.

The first thing you must do is prepare a first aid kit. However, in addition to loading it with what a younger person would pack in the case of an emergency, you also need to consider what you may need in your specific situation as an older adult. We’ve added a comprehensive list at the link here, but at a minimum, you’ll want adhesive tape, alcohol pads, hand sanitizer, and painkillers, to name a few essentials.

If you currently take medications for ailments you’ve dealt with for a long while, you’ll want to get a larger supply so you can add it to your first aid kit. You may also know of a medical issue that is common in your family tree. Research preventative care and ways to fight off that specific sickness or disease, especially if emergency medical care isn’t readily available, so you can be prepared for anything. If there are medications that you can take now to lessen your chance of becoming seriously ill in the future, try to get those and pack them as well.

2. Diet and Nutrition Play an Important Role

As a prepper, you are familiar with the importance of preserving foods to make sure that you get the nutrition that you need. Maintaining a proper diet is even more important as you age, as eating well can help you keep your physical strength and boost your immunity.

Your nutrition can also benefit your mental health.  Eating foods high in folic acid, such as legumes, nuts and dark leafy greens, can not only stave off symptoms of depression, but also assist in the production of red blood cells and ward off anemic-based tiredness. Adding items high in magnesium to your diet — such as fish, whole grains, and even tap water when sourced from certain springs — can alleviate feelings of nausea and muscle tiredness.

Diet and nutrition can also play a major role if you are unable to access your usual medications. In the case of hypertension, hibiscus is a natural remedy that works almost as well to moderate your blood pressure. If you struggle with sleep and have trouble drifting off at night, you may use sleeping pills. Since you’ll want to be awake and alert if disaster strikes, you’ll need your shut-eye, so, consider adding melatonin into your routine, which will help you drift off. It also provides anticancer properties. Many foods are high in melatonin that you can stock up on, including cherries, goji berries, fish, nuts and milk.

3. Pooling Enough Money for an Emergency Can Be Tough

If you’re older and your career is tapering off, or you’re completely retired, then you may not have a lot of expendable income. Although you’ve been prepping all these years, you’ll still need to save some money to buy extra supplies when the time comes.

If you’re not yet retired but getting closer, you’ll be comforted to know there’s still time to save and boost your retirement savings. One of the easiest ways is to increase your contributions if you’re still on the job, which you may be able to do with your 401k plan. Raise your match each paycheck, and the company may match your contribution, so you’re essentially getting free money.

Another way to essentially get free money is to open a high-interest savings account and put your retirement income there. These accounts are FDIC-insured. So as long as the banking institutions are still operating, your money will always be protected. Many savings accounts will even have perks like giving you an extra boost when you add money to the account regularly. Research the best savings products online and find one that offers a reasonable interest rate that’s worth the effort.

You can also be proactive by limiting how much the government can take out of your savings by moving to a state that doesn’t tax your retirement. Many states, including Florida, Nevada, Texas, and Washington, don’t have a state income tax. Because of that, they don’t tax your retirement funds, so you can take out what you have. There are other states, like Florida, Hawaii, and Iowa, that won’t tax your pensions either. Finally, 38 states, including California and Ohio, don’t tax your social security.

There’s a lot of options there, but the point is that you should find a state that will give you the best “bang for your buck” and consider moving there so you can get the most out of your money. In many cases, you must live in the state before you retire to take advantage, so don’t delay. Just remember that you may not be able to take out a loan or use a credit card when disaster eventually strikes, but you know that cash will always be king. 

4. Defending Yourself May Be More Difficult

It isn’t nice to think about, but it’s an unfortunate reality that in the case of a disaster where everyone is panicking and looking to survive, you may be targeted more often due to your age or appearance. People will automatically assume that you’re an easy target, so you will have to learn self-defense.

Look online and find a martial arts class in your community where you can learn a few moves that can help you in a pinch and read reviews so you don’t waste time or money. You may find a martial arts class specifically intended for senior citizens, and the instructors there can teach you according to your strengths and limitations. Several forms of martial arts can be particularly beneficial for seniors, including aikido, which is less about kicking and punching and instead focuses on putting people in locked positions so they can’t hurt you. Wing chun is another great martial art with more open-hand techniques and fewer requiring a closed fist, so it’s easier for folks with arthritis.

Even if you don’t intend to engage in combat, martial arts provide many health benefits that can help you now and in the case of an emergency, including improved mobility, which will be important when you need to get around quickly when necessary. Practicing the arts will also:

  • Enhance your balance;
  • Improve coordination;
  • Provide flexibility;
  • Increase your range of motion;
  • Improve your cardiovascular health and heart rate/

You don’t necessarily need to practice martial arts to protect yourself when you’re older. You can also stay protected and thwart criminals’ attempts by knowing how to fight back in a pinch, such as aiming for the more sensitive parts of an attacker, like the throat, groin, and eyes. If your arms are pinned  and you can’t fight back, try stomping on their feet as hard as possible. Look online for self-defense tactics for seniors, and you’ll pick up a few helpful tips.

5. Firearm Readiness Will Be Tricky

If you have limited mobility, defense with a firearm can be tricky. If you’ve never looked into firearms before, now may be the time, if only so you’re prepared for any scenario. When you want to purchase a firearm but you have limitations, you first need to research and try things out.

You’ll need to research different guns and visit shops to hold different weapons to see how they fit in your arms and determine if they’re too heavy. Wheelchair users may have to find a gun that can be easily concealed when they’re sitting down. You should also consider the effect of recoil.

Look online for weapon preparedness classes for seniors so you can find an instructor who understands your limitations and can provide the specific training you need.

It’s possible that a firearm simply is not going to work in your situation as an aging prepper, so you may have to learn how to use some other more non-traditional weapons. These include stun guns and pepper spray that can give you a chance to escape. Just about anything can be used as a weapon, including the cane you may use daily or the keys you always have in your pocket. Research how to prepare yourself for any situation and you’ll have a better chance of getting through a trial when the world is flipped upside down.

6. Staying Safe on Your Own Is Not as Easy

While a younger person may be able to get along on their own by quickly getting out of danger and finding what they need at a moment’s notice, you may not have that same luxury, especially if you’re less mobile than you used to be.

The solution to this issue is to find a group of like-minded individuals that are also engaged in preparing that you can trust and form an alliance. You and the folks on your team have been around a while, and you’ve amassed a lot of knowledge, so you can really do a lot to protect yourselves when times get tough. Unless you start your own group, you may have to prove to an existing unit what you would bring to the table. Are you an expert on firearms? Maybe you had a stint in the military in the past? Once you’re in the group, start learning survival tips from the others.

If disaster strikes, you should all stick together and remember there’s strength in numbers. If someone with bad intentions were looking to cause trouble, they’d be less likely to mess with a group of people, even if you’re all older.


Yes, you have a lot of unique challenges as an aging prepper, but just because you’re older, it doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself and your family when an unfortunate issue does occur. Take some time to determine what you bring to the table and where you have your limitations and see how they could come into play during a potential disaster. Then, work on them to be ready for anything.

Written by

Miles is an independent writer with a background in business and passion for prepping, tech, psychology, news, and simply helping people live happy and fulfilled lives. He has lived and traveled all over the United States and continues to expand his awareness and experiences. When he is not writing, he is most likely mountain biking or kicking back with a cup of tea.

Latest comments
  • I’m an “older” prepper (just north of 55). I haven’t gotten to the stage where I need a small pharmacy of pills. I take a Naproxen pill for minor aches every once in a while. I do take a multi-vitamin for old geezers. My overall health is pretty darn good compared to the average person my age. I’ve been a prepper since 2010 and I’ve stashed enough cash & silver over the years for emergencies. As for self defense, yes I’m not the Karate Kid. At under 5 foot I’m not a physical threat I remember a famous scene from Indiana Jones when Indy is faced with a huge man with a sword, he just shoots him dead. That’s my self-defense plan when the SHTF Just shoot ’em. Shoot first….screw asking questions.
    One thing I do bring to the table to experience and knowledge. Yes, I may have lost a step or two, ok maybe three….but old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance.

  • You should never bother with “self-defense”. Just learn how to hurt people…quickly, easily, and severely, just like the military teaches.Deadwaters

  • “ you may not be able to take out a loan or use a credit card when disaster eventually strikes, but you know that cash will always be king. ”
    If this country goes on the “digital dollar “ as we keep hearing, this idea may or may NOT hold true. It may still have value as a “black market “ type of “barter” denomination, but other stuff is going to be more likely to have use for such.

    I like much of the rest of the information, thanks. Being in the “aged” category, I have to be quite mindful of what you describe, particularly the medical issues for both myself and my better half.

  • it’s all in the mindset,. you have to get mean, i mean hard down, guard dog dirty mean, help who you can but never back down an inch.. to do so and people WILL take advantage of you.

  • I created rules for myself about whether to buy a firearm (for the first time) and it would have been just before my 70th birthday. My first rule was that if I wasn’t going to practice, then I had no business owning a gun of any sort. Here is why. I learned that the most proficient Police Officers in gunning and in the USA are in loss Angeles. They only “Miss” 3 out of every 4 shots, meaning those missed bullets go somewhere and experienced gunners know missed bullets need to not hit a house, bystander, traffic etc. All the rest of American Police Officers (stats are from about 10 years ago–early 2000s) miss 4 of every 5 shots fired. So, I will guess about Preppers as decent folk who work jobs, etc. that in real world combat, where you are running and shooting,; and NOT taking three minutes to focus on a bullseye target, that Preppers miss maybe 8 or 9 out of every 10 shots. Curse me if you want, I will accept it–but remember I am not a gun owner yet, and have never fired a handgun, only a shotgun 3x and a .22 in Boy Scouts (for a merit badge). The miss rate was a big wake up call for me. So was the legal fees (about $100,000) for a negligent discharge that harms someone. I’d prefer to be dead than pay that kind of money to an attorney; and especially with Old Man eyes that one day are sharp, and the next day are blurry. I failed all my four rules (the last being who would inherit my gun(s) and would I want them to inherit them . I did not feel comfortable with any of my heirs inheriting a gun for reasons I will not explain I may still buy a gun. If I miss out in the woods, the odds are high I wouldn’t accidentally (or negligently) harm anyone. Plus a gun is a requirement for a Trapping License (to give the “catch” a humane death. I support 2nd Amendment and would like a .45 to kill (if I can hit it a bear or coyote), when out and about in their neighborhood (if I feel threatened).

  • Get a good double barrell, chop it down a bit and you do not need to know how to hit the bullseye. Double ought buck gives you about 8 or 9 chances to hit what you are looking at vs a single shot from a pisto; or rifle. However if you have access to an M60 and a basket load of belts, you are good to go..

    • Oh, please! Do NOT “chop it down a bit” and don’t count on the “spray & pray” method of shooting. Remember your high school physics, folks. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In firearms, that translates to “recoil.”. Recoil will be inversely proportional to the weight of the firearm. That means that, if you cut down the barrel length, the weight decreases and therefore, the recoil increases. The shotgun is designed for optimal operation as it is manufactured. The moment you change its specifications, including its dimensions, you de-optimize its characteristics . As an older, less robust person, you will feel the recoil more and the increased recoil will affect your balance more. If you are looking at a shotgun, consider a smaller gauge or use “Featherweight” shells which have less powder and therefore, less forward force resulting in less felt recoil.

      You still need to practice at the range to become familiar with the shotgun’s operation, with basic safe handling procedures, with proper maintenance of the firearm and you need to become proficient since you still need to aim and practice proper trigger pull. In general, you need to become familiar and comfortable with your chosen firearm.

      If you are unwilling or unable to do that, then you need to find an alternative method of protecting yourself and others.

  • Jason Hanson, former CIA Operative, says that most attacks in USA are at close distance–that no one is fool enough to notify a potential victim that they are going to attack. No, first they move in close, then ambush before a victim realizes what happened. He suggests use of a thin, sharp pointed knife (stiletto), that could cut through even a bullet proof vest, where a bullet would be stopped (as would a wide blade knife).. He also shows a chart about how the design of the blade will affect how quickly a knife “cuts” through. In his “ad” (he’s selling a bunch of different knives now) the stiletto is almost like a “needle” compared to a standard bush knife.; and being pointed (and potentially sharp on both ends–cutting edge and spine–it has the least resistance against clothing, etc. for quick penetration. He sure makes sense. Jeff Anderson, former combat soldier, regularly says that you get 3 of 4 chances to know “what comes next”. First someone will ask you for something; second, they will beg; third, they will curse you and threaten you; What comes next is some form of attack. Insofar as that happens, whomever I may be resisting– that one will essentially be already “in my face”, and potentially too close for me (and most people) to draw a holstered gun. Jason Hanson offers training on how to disarm a knife at your throat (from in front of you). TRS (Threat Response Solutions)–Fight Fast has lots of videos about how to make instant moves to reduce that kind of threat. So does TFT (Target Focused Training). And TRS +TFT demonstrate how to escape a knife at your throat from someone behind you. As for me, I’ve never been in a fist fight; but when I look in the mirror, my past ability to talk myself out of a fight would no longer work. Eleven Years ago, when I saw “this” old guy in the mirror shortly after wake up. I instantly realized that I am already a target of opportunity for hoodlums–you know, “An old guy” walking his wife’s Chihuahua (little and not scary) after dark. I do support 2nd Amendment and self-defense; and appreciate the recommendation to get a double-OO shotgun. For me that would be best at a distance.

    • Why would anyone want a Dbl Barrel Shotgun? That is what Biden suggested to scare Suspects away, well after he fired his 2 rounds in the Air, then what?, we don’t have Secret Service Protection… It only has 2 Shells,Loading while under stress can be a Problem, a Pump or Semi-auto is better which hold 5 or more Rounds. Someone suggested cutting the Barrel off, not a good Idea Legally ( a Federal Felony) which you might no care about at that time, however a cut off Shot gun is a lot harder to handle with recoil etc., for older Folks. Get a nice .22 Rifle and /or Handgun, Ruger makes a Great .22 Rifle. There is no Recoil with a .22 and Ammo is STILL Cheaper, you don’t need to Fumble with single .22 Rounds, you have either a 10 round or 25 round Magazine, that should clear the way for you. and have Spare Magazines handy..
      You state you support the 2nd Amendment, well then Act on it and get a Weapon of your Choice, get a CCW License so you can Protect yourself and the Wife’s Dog against 2 legged and 4 legged Predators. Practice with whatever. Weapon you decide to get, become very familiar with it..