What Will Become Of The Old People

Guest post by Lint Picker

Much has been written about caring for the young in our society during difficult times, but what will become of the old people?

We all know old people. Either we have elderly parents or grandparents or neighbors, or we are the elderly. Have you ever contemplated what you would do for (or to) the elderly in a SHTF scenario or during TEOTWAWKI? I have. Would you abandon them and save yourself? Or would you risk your own wellbeing in order to help them? It’s a tough call and one that should be considered BEFORE things
spiral out of control any further. Here are my thoughts on the elderly during really difficult times.

I have elderly relatives who are not preppers. In fact, they are the opposite – always living for today and ignoring the future. They are totally unaware of the dangers we face in this complex world. My conscience, however, will not allow me to abandon them if there is any way I can help them. Since I am not getting any younger myself, I also contemplate how I will survive as I age. It’s not pleasant to think of these things, but I believe they are important issues to raise and to discuss.

One option, I suppose, would be to painlessly put the elderly out of their misery should things deteriorate quickly. If a horrible pandemic strikes their neighborhood and they catch the disease and there is no way they can recover but only suffer, then perhaps that is a humane choice to make. Maybe a terrorist bomb goes off and blows your elderly loved one’s legs off and you can’t care for them because the terrorists are still planting bombs. So you may think that humanely ending the life of that loved one is your only real option. God forbid these things happen and you have to seriously make such gut-wrenching choices, but bad things happen to good people and you may want to mull over, in advance, if you could or would dispatch your elderly relatives. I am not sure I could.

On the other hand, you could risk your own life and the lives of your family or your neighborhood defense team and try to save the elderly who have become seriously injured or ill. That might be valiant, but hardly practical in some extreme scenarios. Is a severely maimed elderly person worth trying to save? Is a seriously ill and potentially contagious old cantankerous guy worth jeopardizing your own health and safety?

These are questions that civilization has been dealing with for thousands of years and, in fact, this is what makes us “civilized.” Civilization is not based on mere survival, it is based on doing for others when they cannot do for themselves, and making the personal CHOICE to do so.

The key word here is “choice” because when we are forced to do something counter to our own safety and/or health, it is no longer civilization that we are preserving, but rather tyranny. And tyranny is never civilized. Your conscience and your sense of morality should guide you, not the bayonet or the jackboot. Do you have the character to risk your safety for the good of your elderly parents, your old in-laws, or your aged neighbors? I hope so!

This is not to say that every effort must be made to try to rescue the elderly. To be sure, there will be scenarios in which you will have to abandon them. Some situations will arise in which you will have no choice except to leave them to face alone what may be headed their way. These situations will probably be rare, but in truly dire times these scenarios will become manifest. Can you live with yourself if you have to leave your pleading mother at her house, just blocks away, in order to save your own wife and kids? That would be an extremely difficult choice to face.

Thankfully, your mother would probably tell you to leave and save yourself, and in doing so she would ease your conscience. Other elderly loved ones may not be so self-sacrificing. You may have an elderly uncle who insists you drag his broken body out of the house as radiation rains down on you. What will you do then? Can you even determine today would you would at such a time? Maybe not, maybe that’s a wait-and-see predicament.

A well-known nurse on a video sharing website says that the first to die off in a TEOTWAWKI situation will be the old and the young. There is no doubt in my mind that she is absolutely correct. That being said, what can we do today to make things easier on ourselves and the elderly? Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

1) Love the elderly (and everyone else) today, while you can and while they are aware of your love for them. If you give them your time and attention and affection now, they will be much happier and more willing to forgive whatever choice you must make during TEOTWAWKI. They will also be more amenable to any suggestions you want to make for their sake. Yes, sometimes old folks can be demanding of your time and resources, but they deserve your respect and compassion. They are not burdens, they are people in need of help.

2) Prepare now for their failing health and loss of mobility. You can add a handrail to the backdoor or fix that broken step so they don’t trip and become prematurely disabled. You and your elderly loved ones should sit down and discuss things that will make their lives more comfortable, safer, and healthier today – before the SHTF. If they are unwilling to discuss these issues, then perhaps it is time to do these things without their consent, just do it and they will often come around to see you were right.

3) Make copies of their important papers and secure those copies somewhere in your home or in some other safe place. Try to determine who will handle their finances if they become unable to handle them personally. A living will and a trust may be legal instruments worth investigating. A son or daughter able to sign on their elderly relative’s checking account is also worth contemplating so that the bills can be paid if the elderly person is unable to write checks at some point in time.

4) Determine which prescription and over-the-counter drugs are used regularly so you can stock up now or find alternative substitutions. Go with your old person to his/her next doctor’s appointment if at all possible and listen to what the doctor says. This may give you some insight into what is wrong and what it takes to help the person. Sometimes the elderly don’t like to discuss their medical problems with their children, but going along to the doctor’s office could educate you about their problems and help you find solutions if professional medical care becomes unobtainable.

5) If you are elderly or rapidly approaching old age as I am, then you should follow my suggestions in points 1- 4 for yourself. Fix those things that could hinder your mobility. Make your life as simple as possible. Give copies of your important documents to your trusted younger loved one. Inform your family of your medical conditions and which medications you require and any alternatives that are available. And perhaps most importantly, show love and appreciation for those who care about you and whom you care about. It’s never too late to start, so get going!!!

Whatever you do, don’t frighten them with “what if” scenarios. For example, don’t ask your elderly father “what if” the terrorists blew up his house, should you look for him or grab your own wife and kids and head for the safety of a hidey-hole? There is no need to frighten anybody, especially someone who is not fully able to care for himself. Instead, stick to subjects he can relate to, like his health and the upkeep of his home. The purpose is to plan ahead as much as possible, but not to cause panic.

Please share your thoughts, suggestions, concerns, and ideas regarding the elderly? What plans have you made for the elderly in your life during a SHTF or a TEOTWAWKI scenario?


  1. Givemeliberty says:


    I liked your post. Read it twice, printed it off, read it a third time. I especially liked your practical suggestions for loving the elderly, and your observation about civilization and the choice to help someone who “can’t do anything for you,” which I was taught is the definition of character. I provided full time care for an ill FIL for 4 months in our home, and it absolutely wore me out. (He doesn’t sleep well.)

    I admit I was scared at the beginning when some compassionate euthanasia ideas seemed to be creeping in. I was trained in the ivory tower of medicine, so I always fight the “but-we-can-do-such-and-such-so-we-must demons,” but always try to balance that with my faith-based realism and recognition that man’s days are numbered.

    Again, great post. You should win a prize.

    • Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

      WOW, Givemeliberty, thank you so much. I truly appreciate your taking the time to comment. I know you know what it’s like to care for the elderly, it’s a struggle. But life itself is a struggle, and without kindness we are no better than the insects.

      May God bless you for the care and comfort you provided for your FIL.

  2. Plant Lady says:

    This topic is my current life. I have been caring for my 87-yr. old MIL for 4.5 years now. She is bipolar with Alzheimers, and has been on hospice for 22 months…she is completely helpless. A year ago I also took on caring for my 93-yr.-old grandfather. MIL bites and hits, grandfather hits. We just had to put him in a nursing home, as he is still mobile and large enough to be dangerous to me, MIL and our dog. My husband is a truck driver and gone a lot and we have no children, so not much help available. Can’t afford to hire help, as MIL is rated as a two-person transfer (needs two regular people – not extra-large and extra-strong like me – to move her safely) and at $18 an hour, per aide…well, just not affordable! I have thought and thought and thought and prayed…and I still don’t know how I could possibly manage to care for them and do everything needed to survive in a SHTF situation. It’s almost impossible now, even with all the modern conveniences. There is so much I need to do to get prepared, but I barely have time to sleep, let alone put in, tend and preserve a big garden, get the new 31-tree orchard/berries/grapes planted (they have been heeled-in since late April), get more livestock (have chickens, NEED dairy goats and pigs). As it is, I find myself tending my chickens around midnight more often than I would care to (hehe).
    Special concerns are laundry…even with a modern washer and dryer dealing with incontinence is a literal never-ending chore and I shudder to think of doing it all by hand. And that thought brings up the need for a wheelchair accessible outhouse. Gardening…need to figure out a way to make a huge garden wheelchair accessible, since can’t leave MIL alone in the house (God forbid) or even on the edge of the garden without her freaking out.
    My best solution is to lure as many as I can of the extended family and like-minded friends to our mini-farm…elder care in the days to come will only be possible if you have enough folks to ensure everyone’s survival with a couple of the completely trustworthy but less able teenagers or older folks (but not elderly) left over for elder care. Hey, just like the olden-days!
    And when it comes to SHTF…I do plan on going to get Gramps and bring him home. He can’t walk the 8 miles anymore, but I have a bike and a nice garden wagon if necessary.
    And hey, if we can figure it all out now, we will be set for when we get old!

    • Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

      Geez Plant Lady, you certainly have a heavy load. Right now, you could seek respite care from the county. This would give you several hours off one day a week so that you could rest, work in the garden, shop, or whatver. It is free if your income qualifies you for this service. I hope you will investigate respite care so you don’t kill yourself off trying to care for your MIL. This would be over and above hospice care. Normally I would not suggest help from the government, but your taxes have paid for it for others and if anybody deserves help, seems to me you do.

      As for incontinance, there are adult disposable diapers and also large “accident pads” (I have forgotten what they are really called, but they go on top of the sheet, where the elder’s butt rests just in case of accidents). Plus, there are large wet-wipes to use for quick clean ups. I bought some at Rite-Aid to keep in my camping gear so I won’t have to shower but can still keep clean.

      Seems that you have the right idea, it will take families to care for the elderly (and others) when TSHTF. It won’t be done by a just one person – there is too much that is needed for the elderly. Try cultivating those relationships now, so it is easier to convince them to help later.

      Good luck to you, and may God bless you for your compassion.

      • Plant Lady says:

        Thank you, Lint Picker. Its not so bad since we got Gramps moved to the nursing home – things are so much less tense. When he was still with us, I had my next-youngest sister (my best friend) come help a couple hours almost every day – we have been “sharing” watching out for the grandparents for about the last 30 years. I can manage MIL most of the time now, but there is so much I need to do to prepare us for more than bare survival and there just isn’t any time available. That is why I am so worried about when the bad times come…if it is just barely possible now, what will happen when I have to spend literally every moment working in the garden, preserving food, tending livestock, cutting wood and such just to survive – along with all the added stress of life-as-we-know-it ending? Even if you can band together with a group of like-minded folk, unless you are extremely well-prepared ahead of time (on par with Old Order Amish), you will have to make some really tough choices, especially the first couple years until we all figure out how to “really” make this new reality work.
        I love Depends! And we do use the disposable bed pads (for now) with a cloth pad under that…but I still have some bedding and pajamas to wash most days along with clothing that always seems to get food on it during meals. I really dread laundry when TSHTF! When my MIL was more able, we made use of our county’s free adult day care weekday mornings at the Senior Center…it really saved my sanity! But the Council on Aging had no money for respite care. Our hospice, being a non-profit, does offer us a 5-day respite every 60 days, where they will pay to put MIL in our local nursing home for 5 days so we get a little break. Nice as that is, I just can’t seem to get the livestock or the garden onto a care schedule of 5 days once per 60 days (hehe).

  3. if you behave like an animal , you should be treated AS one . The elderly are an obligation . We dont have to like it but we ARE obligated to those that did for us when WE weren’t worth a crap , we exist because of them and their care . Eventually , in every disaster , things calm down and get into a rhythm and ” normality ” sets in again . We will eventually answer pay for our misdeeds at some point . Their were a lot of Nazi war criminals that thought they got away with it until they were found and either extradited or flat out kidnapped to face trial .

    • Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

      T.R., good to see you back. Where you been? Yeah, we have a duty to care for those who can’t care for themselves, particularly our parents and grandparents. And things will settle into some sort of normalcy at some point – but what that normalcy looks like is what bothers me.

      Keep on preppin’.

      • Thank you Lint Picker ,
        Ive been on the road on a project in Utah . Glad to be back ,Its interesting to ponder what ” normalcy ” will be ……. maybe on the light end , a restoration of what already existed with less resources , medium end ( something I would like to see ) groups of states dropping out of the union and becoming sovereign nations , heavy end perhaps people forming communities / nations like the Indian tribes . I personally think they have it right . Take care of your own first . Cant see a ” Road Warrior ” situation lasting very long , human sociology / nature is to build and make things comfortable as fast as possible . The Romans started out as a tribe along the Tiber river to grow into one of the greatest nations the world has ever seen .

  4. Nor Cal Ray says:

    Great job Lint. I have been thinking about what to do with my Mom. She is 72 and still healthy. She is able to get around O.K. but she lives halfway across the country from me. She refuses to move back out here and so I have been debating moving back there to be near her just in case anything does go wrong. My Dad died aabout 30 years ago while on vacation. I am 54 years old and take 3 different meds so I don’t know what I will do myself.
    My next door neighbors are the sweetest people you would ever want to meet but their kids who live here in the same town haven’t seen them in over a year. We have been adding to our preps to try and help them out when the SHTF. They lived thru the Depression and talking to them I have learned a lot. Needless to say they believe in being prepared also. His wife is the one who taught me how to can and even gave me my start by giving me 2 dozen jars and a bunch of lids and rings.
    It’s late and I’m rambling now so I’m out of here. Congrats, wish you had taken first.

  5. Who decides who is to old? age=physical ability to perform the task necessary to survive the event.

    In a shtf scenario where there is shooting involved, I’m capable. In a situation where running for miles to avoid the threat and survive, is required, most adult americans over the age of 25 would be to old to carry on.

    If you have to scramble up a mountain to avoid drowning in a flood, your 40 year old, otherwise capable, parents might become a liability.

    Hopfully there will be time to consider options, and develop strategies. But in a fast moving wild fire, a ten year old may have to abandon his parents in order to survive.

    So in truth, we may all be , to someone the old and impared.