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?