How to Prep if You Live in a Senior Retirement Place

If you currently reside in a senior retirement community and worry about the state of affairs in our country and across the world, there is hope. One thing you can do to make sure that you and those around you are ready is to start getting prepared.

Just because you’re getting older and may have some physical limitations, doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to be ready for what may be looming on the horizon.

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In addition, you have a huge advantage in that you’ve lived through times without electronics and other luxuries. You have knowledge of how to do things that many young people may not have.

Become Informed

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There are tons of books out there both fiction and non-fiction which will help you to understand what kinds of events might be coming and what kind of situations you could be up against when SHTF.

Two books that you may find helpful for you to understand what kinds of things you could be up against, are Patriots written by James Wesley Rawles, and 77 Days in September authored by Ray Gorham.

This list of best survival movies and TV shows can not only help you get your mindset ready to prep but can help you to influence others in your senior community that prepping is necessary.

The more you know about the kinds of dangers that will be present after a natural disaster or during a SHTF, the better you will be at preparing overall.

Identify a Network

Part of becoming informed will be to try and find out if there are any other people in your senior retirement community that may be feeling the same way you are.

This has to be done subtly so as not to alert everyone that you are going to be prepping. It will be important for you to have a small group of people so that you can help one another with things you can’t do yourself. But the last thing you want is for everyone to come knocking on your door when SHTF because the word got out that you were stockpiling supplies.

If you listen to your friends and neighbors talking during group events or a get together, or even in casual conversation, you may be able to determine who in the community is also aware that trouble is looming on the horizon.

Once you have identified two to four additional people in your community that you can trust and who you think might be open to prepping, invite them to dinner and a movie. Watch one of the movies from the list above, and see what kind of conversation gets started.

If you are in an assisted living facility, you may be able to create a small network of people with other residents to prepare if you can get at least one staff member involved who will help you to plan.

The staff member can serve as your liaison to let you know what things the facility can provide, what things can be stockpiled without breaking the rules of the facility, etc.

Research Before You Buy

One of the key things to understand before you begin prepping is that you have to research everything before you buy. There are a ton of companies out there that are marketing all kinds of food and supplies that are targeted at people who are prepping for a disaster or other SHTF event.

Many of the companies are very good at convincing scare tactics and promises that convince you that you will only be okay if you buy their product and do things their way. It just simply isn’t true.

There is a myriad of ways to get prepared and in most cases, the best way for you to get prepared depends very much on your situation and your skills and abilities.

Now, having said that, there are some major categories of things that everyone needs to think about and prepare for, how you prepare for each of those things is ultimately dependent on your situation and your abilities.


For seniors, one very important thing to consider is your medication. You no doubt have some type of medication that you are taking on a regular basis, maybe for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, arthritis, or any number of health issues that hit us as we get older.

Go through your list of medications, the ones you are taking on a regular basis, and create a written list that includes the name of the medication, the dosage, and what it is addressing. Talk to your doctor about the fact that you are concerned that in the event of a natural disaster you could be caught without your medication.

Ask your doctor to write you a prescription for each medication that you can fill in advance so that you can stockpile it in your emergency bug out bag.

Make sure that you talk with your doctor about how each medication should be stored and any expiration concerns so that you can rotate the medication if needed so it doesn’t lose its potency.

Food and Supplies

If you are living in an independent living retirement community, then most traditional survival planning will apply for you since you have your own home, whether it be a house, apartment, or condo.

You’ll want to consider stockpiling some of these essential foods that store well. If you do your own shopping, you can pick up a few extra food items each time you go to the store.

Consider bulk amounts of wheat, rice, honey/sugar, dried or powdered milk, salt, nuts, beans, etc. A hand grain mill will help you take the wheat, beans, nuts, spices, flax, coffee beans, and many other items from raw form into a flour that can be used to make a wide variety of foods.

Make sure that you take the time to refresh your memory or collect recipes on how to make food such as flour, bread, nut butters, bean paste, etc., from these raw ingredients.

Unless it’s against the rules of your community, you can slowly stockpile some food a little at a time and store it in your house and garage. If you have an attic you can take advantage of that too as long as you store things that aren’t susceptible to extreme temperature changes.

Your garage is typically a good place because it is usually cooler than the rest of the house. You will want to make sure your supplies are well hidden so they cannot be found and stolen by looters. Consider this article on the best ways to hide your preps for places that might work for your situation.

If your meals are cooked and served for you daily, then you may need to have family members help you by giving them a list of items and asking them to bring you a few items every time they visit.

Make sure that you purchase food items that don’t need to be cooked and make sure bottled water is on your list as well in case the water in your apartment isn’t functioning. You may need to get permission from staff to store the food if you are in a facility owned apartment or a room.

Consider growing your own food in a small backyard garden if you are physically mobile or in containers in an area that is accessible to you. This could be on your porch, back deck, or even inside if you have a window with enough sunlight.

Ask a relative or neighbor to help you build raised beds or some other platform that will let you tend to your garden without overly exerting yourself.

If you are in a facility run community, ask staff or management about having a small garden that is open to everyone who wants to help maintain it. If you are lucky, you may be able to get staff to help as well. After all if SHTF, many of you will be together, you may as well form your own survival group.

Other items to store for your bug out bag:

  • a good pair of scissors so you can easily open any tough packaging
  • a battery operated can opener to more easily open canned food.
  • Extra glasses and/or hearing aids and batteries.
  • Any tools and equipment you need or may need for mobility including canes, walkers, a wheel chair, etc. It should be clearly labeled with your name in case you are evacuated and your items are loaded with that of others.
  • Gamma lids will unscrew instead of snap on and off like regular lids for 5 gallon buckets. They are a little pricier but worth it if arthritis will keep you from opening the traditional lids.


If you decide that you will bug out or even if you decide to bug in, you will have a need for some type of transportation, even if it’s just to get out and look for supplies to replenish your stockpile.

If you have a reliable vehicle, then keeping it in good condition and full of gas will be key. But consider an alternative method of transportation also, in the event your vehicle isn’t working or you run out of fuel.

Many people use bicycles, scooters, and skateboards as back-up transportation. They even have several different kinds of bikes that fold-up when not in use. You may have no option but to push yourself in your wheelchair, so know which routes will be easiest for you to navigate.

If none of these are good options for you, then you simply must try to increase your physical stamina so that you will be able to walk the distance needed to get to your bug out location or to look for supplies.

If you are not already in the habit of walking daily, now is a great time to start. Be sure to talk with your doctor first and take proper safety precautions, but begin walking daily and increase the distance gradually.


If your physical abilities are hindered at all, you will need to make sure that you can communicate with someone else who can assist you if you need to bug out or when you need additional supplies.

One thing you will want to invest in is a good radio that will keep you up to date on not only weather alerts but also news and other announcements during an emergency.

It’s also a good idea to have some type of hand radio or other way to communicate with family, neighbors, care staff, or friends in the event of an emergency. There are many types of events where your landline and cell phone just simply won’t operate or won’t be reliable.

In addition, you need to have some type of visual signal that you can use if all other communication has failed you. This could be as simple as a white towel tied to your front door knob, your mailbox, or some other visible location.

Many emergency service personnel will recognize this as a signal for help. Some communities may even have printed signs that you can display in your window if you need help.


One thing you need to consider as a resident of a senior retirement community is security for yourself and your current home. There are some simple things that you can do to increase the level of security if you own your home.

If you are renting, then you may need to have the permission of your landlord or housing facility before you can make physical changes to the unit.

Personal Self-Defense for those who have crossed the senior threshold is going to depend a lot on your physical fitness and mental acuity. If you are physically able to do so, then a self-defense course or training can certainly help.

The same applies to the use of a gun. If you are trained and physically able to shoot a gun, and it doesn’t violate the rules of your community, then you definitely want to include one along with an ample supply of ammunition in your bug out bag or stockpile.

For those that aren’t physically able to defend themselves there are many different types of non-lethal self-defense weapons such as mace, pepper spray, and stun guns to consider.

Again, you will need to make sure owning weapons doesn’t violate the rules for your community. The other skill that you may want to practice in order to protect yourself from attack is the art of deception. There are several deceptive strategies that work for preppers that may fit your situation.

The best form of self-defense is to avoid a confrontation which means preventing intruders from getting into your home at all costs. For this reason, it’s also a good idea to increase the physical security of your home now in preparation for more chaotic times.

Consider installing a home security system and reinforcing doors, windows, frames, and deadbolts as much as possible. Consider any of the additional home defense options that fit your individual situation.

To Bug in or Bug Out

If you are located in a senior retirement community, the first thing you have to decide is whether you will bug in or bug out during a disaster situation.

This decision will be dependent on your circumstances including your physical health, the amount of assistance you need for daily tasks, the readiness of people around you, the security of your home, and your access to resources such as transportation.

If you are living in a semi-independent or assisted living situation and you want to be prepared for a natural disaster or other SHTF event, you may have to count on others to evacuate.

The reality is that if you need assistance with your daily living right now, (meal planning, bathing, dressing, grocery shopping, medication reminders, etc.) then you will definitely need assistance during a SHTF event.

So for you, being prepared means something a little different. Yes, you can prepare to be able to survive as long as possible in your home if the power goes out or some other disaster occurs.

But ultimately for a wide scale disaster, you are going to have to depend on other people and their level of preparedness in order to bug out or to survive long term. The best way for you to be prepared to evacuate is to

  • find out the specifics about emergency plans already in place in your community
  • talk to family members about how they might be able to help during an emergency
  • have a reliable way to communicate with family during a disaster
  • know how to shut off utilities such as water, gas, and electric
  • if you have pets, check to see if they are welcome at your designated shelter
  • stock enough pet food and water to get your pets through several weeks if needed
  • put together your emergency bug out bag with enough supplies for you to survive until help comes.
  • Prepare a sign to attach to a visible location that indicates what shelter you were headed to so relatives can find you. Also make a sign to indicate your pets are in the house if you have to leave them behind.

The more you can plan and prepare today, the better your chances of survival during a wide scale natural disaster or a more serious type of event like an economic collapse or EMP type incident.

If you take the time to become informed and research your options, you can put together a well thought out plan that will help you to survive whatever may come your way.

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