15 Items Older People Want For Survival
For years, my blog has been dedicated to helping people of all ages and walks of life to plan ahead when it comes to being prepared for the unexpected. We set our own priorities in that regard, but sometimes we overlook what life is like for others as they age. I’m updating some older posts because the information needs to get out as soon as possible for people to be prepared.
The time will come when we may be living on our own or at a stage where we need to consider assisted living quarters. As I’ve thought about it this week, I know of at least 15 items older people want for survival.
Please remember your family members or friends living alone, or possibly in a care center when considering things needed for survival.
I remember getting an email from a reader a few years ago asking me what her mom should have stored in her apartment at her assisted living facility. Here’s the deal, we may think our mom, dad, aunt, uncle, or dear friend should be just fine after a disaster if they are living alone or at a care center. But if we seriously consider their circumstances, we know better.
The employees in a care center can only help so many older people after a disaster. There will probably be some panic, we expect that. Let’s get started to help those we love to be prepared before they need to be. I want you to think about this situation if you haven’t already. What we discuss could be your situation sometime in the future.
15 Items Older People Want For Survival
Let’s say we have a minor disaster, older people sometimes will be unsure of what’s going on around them. They may be scared, so let’s hope they can call you if the power is out, the wind is howling, the snow is heavy, or other issues raise some concern.
Hopefully, they remembered to keep their cell phones charged, if they have one.
If they live alone, I hope they have neighbors they can reach out to for help, if needed. If a caring family lives nearby that’s awesome, if the roads still work. We never know what kind of disaster or unforeseen emergency may occur.
Be Careful How Presented
Of course, we don’t want to alarm our older family members, but if something serious does happen, we would want them to have a few items in their home or care facility to help get them through.
Remember, it’s all about peace of mind for them. As I look back, I know my mom was prepared with food and water in her home, even close to the time she passed away.
She taught me well from a very young age to be prepared for whatever may happen. I highly recommend making one of these for all family members: Survival Bed Pouch by Food Storage Moms
You don’t need to get all of the items on the list today. I recommend getting a few things, starting with water and food right away.
I remember going to visit some older ladies at a care center. The rooms were really nice, not like the olden days where they were not so great and often smelled bad. I would take candy and caramel corn to one particular lady. She loved all things that were sweet. So do I! I would now take a case of water to her if she was still alive.
15 Items for Older People
These items would make a great gift to take to your family the next time you visit them. First of all, their budgets are limited in most cases and they may be too proud to ask for things like this.
As we all know, water is essential for survival. Please make sure any containers of water have lids that can be opened by the elderly. Man, some of those bottles are so hard to open. I get thirsty just thinking about the water getting shut off. Yikes. The BEST place to buy the BLUE CANS are on this website: Brownells
These cans have the best tasting water and they last 50 years. These come in a box and fit nicely under a bed, in a closet, or on a shelf.
If the water is turned off because of tainted water or a disaster strikes the pumping station or the main water line, we all still need water. The very minimum is four gallons per person per day for me when you consider drinking, some personal hygiene, and limited laundry efforts.
I get thirsty just thinking about the water getting shut off. Yikes.
Of course, it’s easier to plan water storage when the elderly are still living at home. You can buy water storage containers of various sizes that may work well. It’s at the care center when the Blue Cans mentioned above would prove to be a Godsend.
Food is critical, even if they live in a care center, because if the roads are damaged or the grocery stores are empty or closed those care centers will be unable to feed the residents after a few days. If you have a loved one living alone they may not even think about having a few shelf-stable items in the pantry.
Actually, they may not even have a pantry. If you can take them at least seven days’ worth of food that you know they would eat, consider doing it today, not tomorrow. Trust me, you will feel so much better knowing they have a few items to eat.
If you can afford 30 days worth of food, that’s even better. Prepackaged items are the best approach. Make sure the food is what they loke to eat and can be eaten without needing to be cooked.
Grab some snack packages like tuna and crackers, pretzels and cheese, or other products that are easy to serve. Walk down the supermarket aisles and grab a few items that don’t need to be prepared. Throw in a can opener too, just giving you the heads up here.
3. Flashlights, Solar or Battery
Without proper light, dark surroundings become unsafe for the elderly, and possibly somewhat scary. Just remember to give them extra batteries to store in a safe place. Place the bed pouch indicated above in their bedroom and put the flashlight in it. They will love it, the security of having light at their fingertips is calming and reassuring. OLight Flashlight
You may want to consider some solar flashlights and lanterns. I have a bunch of these that I keep charged up by placing them on a windowsill that faces the sun during the day. I know if/when I need light when the power is out, I can rely on those solar units.
4. Cash and Coins
There is something about having hard cash and coins in your possession. The ATMs and bank lobbies may not be available if the power is out for an extended amount of time. If the person you care about is in a care center, check to see if they have a safe available for use by their tenants.
5. Sanitation Items
Even though there may be an emergency situation outside, people still need to be concerned about proper sanitation. Consider the best items for your loved ones that will make them feel clean and safe. I’ve listed a few below:
Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes and individually packaged toilet paper (split a case for several families) to store: Georgia-Pacific Envision. Hand sanitizer you can pick up at most stores.
Clean hands will cut down on infections in large groups. If the baby wipes dry out, no worries, just add water to them. They make a great mini-bath for our private areas when needed.
In times of emergency, we all may need to get the attention of others, and this is particularly true of the elderly. If at home alone, having a whistle to attract those looking for survivors, or to let authorities know someone is at home when the neighborhood is being canvassed to alert the public it’s time to evacuate, having the whistle certainly gives the elderly another level of comfort
Even in a care center, the tenants may need to get someone’s attention. This could apply to emergencies outside, or their own time of distress if they fall down in the bathroom, or can’t get the strength to get out of bed. It is a pretty cheap safety tool!
UST Marine Hear Me Whistle (2-Pack), Yellow
7. First aid kit
Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes. Some could be a major disaster with all the activities expected. Others could be a personal emergency where a knife slips and a finger or hand is injured. A simple band-aid is critical if that is all they need. I think every home and care center room should have some kind of First Aid Kit. It doesn’t have to be a large fancy unit. It just needs those products that are most commonly useful, just in case.
8. Cell Phone Charger
If they have a cell phone, this one is the one I have: Portable Cell Phone Charger Boy, we all tend to rely on our cell phones for communication and to also stay informed on so many levels. It could be that cell phones don’t work because the cell towers have lost power. At least if they are functional you can keep your cell phone working with the necessary charge.
One thing to consider is if the person still has a car, they can use their car charger in a pinch.
People should consider having other forms of communication, like walkie-talkies. A crank radio is also a handy item to have so you can stay informed about events outside the home and weather reports that are helpful.
9. CPAP Charger
This is critical for people who use a CPAP and need oxygen to breathe during the day and/or night. Panic will set in big time if they can’t breathe when the power is shut off for any amount of time. If they have asthma, they need power for a nebulizer. Goal Zero Solar Charger I tested my Goal Zero Solar unit with my son-in-law. It was great to hear in the morning that it had actually run all night.
10. Extra Pair of Glasses/Prescriptions
They need to store an extra pair of prescription glasses in case one pair breaks. Make sure they have at least 30 days, if not 90 days, of their necessary prescriptions, filled, if possible. Yes, I realize Medicare and Supplemental Insurance only cover so much. You may have to pay cash for one extra month of meds if ordering them is possible on their refill schedule.
11. Make a list of Emergency Contact Information
In an emergency people sometimes get confused and need a sheet of paper with names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses of family, friends, doctors, and insurance companies, to name a few. I like to use card stock with my printable: Food Storage Moms Emergency Contact Info Make sure they know where it is filed so they can find it in a hurry. You might even want to post it on their fridge.
12. Make Lists or Copies for Them
Make a list of their prescriptions, the dose, etc. Make copies of their Medicare cards and insurance cards. Make sure they have copies of their important documents like birth certificates, etc. in a binder with printables. Here is my FREE Printable:
FSM FREE Printable Emergency Binder Download Please be patient for it to load, and the PDF document should show up on your computer on the bottom left side of your laptop or computer monitor. Once the document finishes loading it will be ready to click and print. I prefer printing it on cardstock, and it’s actually in color if you want to print with a color printer.
In case you missed this post on my FREE Binder content, Critical Documents You Need for Emergencies
- Zippered Binder
- Colored Divider Tabs
- Zippered Binder Pockets
- Horizontal Photo Pages
- Binder Pockets
- Sheet Protectors
13. Buddy System
It may seem strange to add this “item” to our list, but it can make all the difference in an emergency scenario. If they haven’t already established a buddy system, it’s a good idea to officially start one.
Of course, care centers would be checking on the residents, it’s the people living alone I worry about. Before my mother died, she and her best friend had set up a calling system every morning to check on each other.
When my mom didn’t answer the phone one day for several hours her friend contacted our sister Susan who lived in the same city. Susan immediately went over to check on my mom. I lived 400 miles away and I called her every Wednesday.
She died on a Thursday, we wouldn’t have known that she had died without her best friend calling daily. This is why it’s critical those elderly living alone have a buddy to check in with every day. Please check on at least one older person in your area as a normal course of everyday things you do.
14. Fire Extinguisher
They need a good fire extinguisher and they need to be shown how to use it when needed: Kidde FA110 Multi Purpose Fire Extinguisher 1A10BC, 1 Pack
Bonus Items: Add incontinence items, pads, disposable undies… Sad but most older people must use them. And creams to care for rashes and any other over-the-counter items you’ve found to be important to have ready access to.
PORTABLE TOILET: Elderly Toilet If the water is turned off for any reason, having access to a unit that lets you relieve yourself could be a lifesaver. You may want to get one for you and your family too.
15. Shower Handle Grab Bars
Safety in the home is critical. We just purchased this one for our shower. Shower Handle Grab Bars Home safety is often something we all take for granted. The next time you visit an elderly friend or family member, check out their bathroom set up and make sure it has the safety features you’d want in your home.
Carla mentioned, reading glasses, emergency denture repair kit, denture reline kit, heavy gloves, and socks.
Beth, please note that persons with pulmonary issues may not be able to blow a whistle enough to summon help. An air horn can be used with just a press of a button. They can usually be found in either the sporting goods or boating sections in department stores.
Give them a bag with wheels (it’s easier for older people) filled with some extra clothing and space to fill items they need to grab and go with if needed. It’s better to be prepared before they need to be.
I would also talk about the geographical areas and the possible situations that could occur where they live. We don’t want to stress them out, but they need to be aware of why we want them to store a few items for an emergency.
If they watch television they can see what is going on all over the world. They will be so grateful and sleep better knowing they are prepared for the unexpected. May God bless you for helping a neighbor or loved one gather these 15 items older people want for survival.
With these items needed for survival, you and the elderly you help will truly feel confident that preparations are in place, just in case. May God bless this world, Linda
Copyright Images: Depositphotos_2300332_m-2015Elderly Couple, Elderly Couple Depositphotos_369918914_S
33 thoughts on “15 Items Older People Want For Survival”
Hey Linda, you forgot about urinary incontinence products!
Hi Lori, I’m glad you mentioned those! I put them under #15, thank you! It says bonus: Add incontinence items, pads, disposable undies… Sad but most older people must use them. And creams to care for rashes. I LOVE suggestions because I may forget some as I’m typing. Please feel free to remind me anytime! I love it! Linda
Incontinence can go two directions; sio an anti diarrheal might also be in order.
This where preppers are not appreciated until an event occurs and they get someone out of a jam. My mother spent time in a place for therapy and as much as they try, they don’t receive a lot of financial support and often time, families of the patients or guests rarely come around if ever, so it is a BIG deal to visit, check on your family member or friend and provide them with necessities.
I see that the biggest problem in an emergency is often a lack of ability to get supplies due to the weather, poor driving conditions, lack of safety, or simply a lack of supplies and places to get them. So for those who are stuck, providing them with supplies and gear would be a very good idea in case you can’t get to them and thus they will be prepared and ready.
Linda, you really bring light to things most of might overlook. I like the idea of bedside gear and a “black out” or even a “bug out bag” so one never finds themselves unprepared and feeling helpless.
HI Frank, thank you so much, my friend! It’s people like you who keep me going. I really do worry about the older people because they sometimes are forgotten. You are so right if the weather conditions are bad, we need “stuff” for them in case we cannot make the drive to deliver needed items. I hope you had a great holiday! Linda
Hi, Linda. One thought about the can opener. Many elderly folks with arthritis have trouble with manual can openers, it requires some strength and flexibility. I have seen battery operated electric can openers and wondered if you or your readers has any experience with them. Many ‘canned’ products now come with a pop top lid or in foil pouches but not everything. Thanks for starting this conversation as I think emergency prepping for the elderly is overlooked.
HI Debbie, I have arthritic hands and those pop top cans are hard sometimes for me to open. I had to buy an electric can opener. I will look into one of that battery operated can openers. I really do worry about the elderly. I see families are busy and may need a little reminder to get some preps for those who can use some help, whether physically or financially. Let’s spread the word. Linda
We have a manual can opener (Swingaway) with a large handle that is rather easy to grip and turn. We also have a battery powered can opener (the TouCAN) that worked well for a few years; but, now has a hard time opening cans, since the cutting wheel has gotten dull and is nearly impossible to sharpen. You also need to keep spare batteries on hand and know how to change them.
Some pop top cans can be cantankerous, so we keep a spare pair of needle nose pliers in the drawer with the can openers and that always does the trick.
This is good, solid information. Not something everybody would think of. Great article. I love the idea of a rolling bag to have items in case an evacuation is necessary.
Many of the people who live in care centers have a reduced appetite. I think that happens to all of us as we age. Snack packs would be perfect and the portion size is large enough to share. They are not expensive either.
A lot of the items listed can be found at dollar stores. The flashlights, batteries, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, etc. That is helpful when budgeting for aiding our elderly relatives.
Care centers have a limited amount of food. However, there are requirements from CMS for disaster. Ask your facility about transfer agreements. Where would your loved one be transferred to in a disaster? What can they take with them? Ask to see their food disaster policy and their written plan.
I am a director in healthcare food service and started my career in long term care centers so I have extensive experience on the subject of disaster preparedness in the food storage area. 🙂
HI Des Moines Daisy, oh I love your suggestions, thank you for your thoughts and well-needed tips! I read “5 Days At Memorial”. It was about Hurricane Katrina and my life changed. It talked about how the hospitals and so much more having to move patients. Wow, what a disaster. We need comments from everyone to educate us all about areas of preparedness. Thank you!! Linda
Not totally on topic, but I have 3 walkers that can cradle a bucket toilet to give any of us, but especially someone older, extra support to sit and then get back up after using.
Hi Jan, oh I’m so glad you brought this up!!! I had my knees replaced and I saved the portable toilet and my walker. I LOVE your comment. I’m going to go add that to the list. Thank you so much!! Linda
I have to wonder what you consider “older people” ? The wife and I are in our late 60’s; but, still live independently on our small farm / homestead with a horse, goat, and chickens. The horse and goat have essentially become pets; but, the chickens do supply us with more eggs than we can eat.
Our power doesn’t go out for more than half a minute until the generator is up and running, and many of our younger neighbors know they are welcome here in any long term power outage, so they can charge batteries and take a shower if need be. These “young kids” are in their 40’s and have skills an resources they would bring. My wife’s eldest brother and his wife live in a similar situation only 2.5 miles from here. They are 79 and 77 respectively. Assuming one lives into old age with the mind intact, one of the best preps you can do is to keep physically fit and situationally aware.
This is a rural community and pretty much everyone and anyone I know have stores of food and essentials on hand. Running out of TP @ 3:00 AM is unthinkable, so it never happens. I think where rural folks have an advantage over their city counterparts lies in part in our remoteness. When the major stores are a 30-40 mile round trip, you can’t just run “down the block” for that gallon of milk, and thus have to plan your trips and keep extra things on hand. Lists are important as we run low on things, since trips to town are infrequent and planned.
While we still do a lot of “from scratch” cooking, ready to eat canned foods like Progresso soups come in a pull top can and are easy to prepare by simply heating in a pan on the stove or in the microwave oven. I personally also like Sardines in mustard sauce, so those pull top cans can provide a tasty and nutritious snack, also at the pull of the tab.
We have tons of lighting and plenty of batteries, with spares kept in their chargers. We still have both Coleman and Aladdin mantle lanterns with fuel; but, they are used less now since the LED technology has gotten so good.
We keep cash on hand; but, if the power is out and the ATM’s are not running, many stores will not be able to “scan” the barcodes and accept the cash for payment, so yet another reason for keeping stored food on hand.
We have extensive first aid supplies on hand, and medical personnel in our MAG who live within only a few miles.
No CPAP; but, I do keep some oxygen containers on hand for emergencies.
95% Pure Oxygen Supplement, Portable Canister of Clean Oxygen,
We keep at least 90 days of all “required” medications, knowing that some would not cause too much problem if missed on occasion along with a copy of the medication in the plastic shoe box with the medications.
My wife has numerous people she talks to on the phone almost daily, and I have numerous people I talk to on the radio several times daily, so getting ahold of someone other than 911 is not a problem.
These are all good things to consider, and someday when we get old, I’ll have to look the list over again, LOL.
Hi Ohio Prepper, I have the giggles!! I’m going to be 69 in January. I don’t feel elderly yet!! LOL! I was mainly thinking of some of my neighbors who can no longer drive and pretty much only go to their church on Sunday, and to pick up groceries once in a while. It’s a real effort for some. I hope that makes sense. Happy New Year! Linda
That makes perfect sense; but, I am now at the age I used to consider old. It’s interesting how your perspective changes when you get to our age. I will be 68 in April and the wife will be 69 in May. Her brother and sister in law live about 3 miles to our west and are 79 and 77 respectively. I can’t drive on the highways due to some vision problems; but, all of the “old” people I know still drive quite well and while we may do things a little more slowly than we did decades ago, we still all function rather well. While not many around our rural community would call themselves “preppers”. Rural living almost demands some amount of preparation, since a trip to the grocery is a 30-40 miles round trip by car or truck, and running out of TP in the middle of the night would be really bothersome. We also all tend to have gardens and some livestock and seeing bees, chickens, cows, goats, or hogs is not out of the ordinary. And yes, we do have electricity, Internet, TV, telephones, hot & cold running water and fluch toilets. At least most of us do, since we also have a sizeable Amish population.
When my mom was in a senior’s condo, the power would go out occasionally. She complained that it would get really hot in her unit which was south facing and she couldn’t put on the air conditioner if the power was out. I bought her a battery operated fan. It used a ton of batteries, however, in an emergency it was just the thing for her. It worked really, really well and it also had the option of being a plug in fan. She gave it away to someone else after she moved into a nursing home. I sure wish she had given it back to me. 🙂
Hi Hattie, I have a portable fan that uses batteries and I can plug it in as well. It’s a lifesaver when you lose power. Great comment, I LOVE it! Linda
You should put scissors in your bedside bag or bug out bag. Some of those packages are had to open. It might be helpful to put in a rubber bottle opener ,flat rubber disc for opening water bottles as they are hard on the hands.
Hi Allison, great comment and a great reminder to all of us. I totally agree with you! Linda
If only it was this easy. Everything’s a dog fight.
They decided to live 13hrs away few years back and moved.
I get them too radios so they can talk to one another on the property. I get “great now they can find me” dunno who “they” is but ok. I buy a fresh box of M1 carbine ammo and I get “I’ve got ammo” to which I snap “you got anything newer than Korean War? Then load it.” I buy a high dollar solar light for the driveway because they’ve already wrecked once missing it. Two years later I find it unboxed in the seat of his pickup.
Help them if ya can but if not don’t let it eat at ya
HI Matt, oh my gosh, the solar light is unboxed in the pickup?? WHAT? The ammo story, best story ever!! Funny but not funny!! Wow, 13 hours away, they’re on their own. I have the giggles, you tell me these stories and I LOVE them! Why would they move? We just moved closer to our kids. I don’t get it. Great comment, Linda
Great list! We took a class on being prepared, taught by EMS. The teacher suggested you carry a whistle on your key ring. In case you are in an accident, you can use the whistle to get help. Yelling or calling for help will use a lot of energy you might need as well as dehydrate people. I found whistles on Amazon that can be heard a mile away – they claim – DH and I carry one on our keys rings. It might look tacky or weird but if it helps us one time it is worth it. I bought some for my friends but they don’t use them. I did try.
Hi Linda, I get it, but sometimes our friends and family do not get it. Nothing looks tacky to me if it saves my life. Great tip on adding them to our key chain, I love it! Linda
Linda, please note that persons with pulmonary issues may not be able to blow a whistle enough to summon help. An air horn can be used by just a press of a button. They can usually be found in either the sporting goods sections or the boating sections of department stores. Thanks for all the great tips and reminders.
Hi Beth, oh, great comment! I will look for air horns and add them to my post! Thank you for your kind words. Linda
This old woman also keeps extra (cheap) reading glasses, emergency denture repair kit, denture reline kit, heavy gloves and socks.
Hi Carla, oh my gosh, these are great tips!! Adding them to the post, thank you!! Linda
My Daughter keeps asking me “What do I know” when she sees my supplies; I told her I can’t go to the store when there is a foot of snow/ice on the street. I have been buying cans and packages of food that need minimal preparation in case we lose electricity. I get water delivered once a month since I can’t drink the tap water (old pipes and the water has a metallic taste) and upsets my stomach. She tried to throw away some adjustable walking poles I received at a Diabetic convention and I told her I am going to need them since they have an ice pick (extra) for walking. Kids, they just don’t understand that we “know” stuff, they think we are crazy or maybe need to go to a nursing home. I pay her no mind, but will keep preparing until I can’t anymore. I am 73 and will be having surgery on my foot next week, the only thing I will have to get is bread and Lactaid milk. Thanks for your information, I have printed a lot of it. Be safe and have a good weekend.
Hi Mildred, great comment, thank you! I will be 72 in January, it’s a way of life for us, Mildred. I can’t drink the water tap water either. I don’t trust the quality. I just moved so I need to go get a Reverse Osmosis unit for this house ASAP. I have had workers look at my food storage sometimes when I have had repairs on the house and they ask me the same thing. All you need to do is listen to the news and everyone should be stocking up. Stay safe, and good luck with your foot surgery! Yay for having water delivered each month! Linda
Another couple things you might add to the list is a portapotty, It’s a chair with a pan under it. Lots of older people will not be able to go outside to go to the bathroom. Another thing is a manual wheel Chair. If my carts can’t be charged I am stuck. I want to get a good sturdy regular wheel chair because like I said if my chairs can’t be charged then I would be stuck. Finally If a person is dependent on oxygen they should see if they can get them through the company that supplies their oxygen machine. VA approved me for 12 tanks and we were really thankful when we were without power for 3 weeks when our line went out. A generator is a great suggestion also. The Generac company has a generator that is run on gasoline, one that will run on natural gas or propane and one that is a Solar system that you can use even when you don’t need it. It has 2 large batteries and it will run your house a long time.
Hi Jackie, great comment with some really good ideas. I’m so glad you were approved for 12 tanks, oh my gosh, what a blessing. I’m adding the porta-potty, a great reminder. We are so dependent on power, we must be ready for outages. No power for 3 weeks, thank goodness you had the tanks. Stay well, stay safe, Linda
One I saw recently:
“It’s weird, being the same age as old people!”
Having stayed at home with my parents, I saw their aging process in pretty close detail. You’ve hit pretty much everything! I might add keeping a cane or two–all it takes is a bit of balance loss or a or wrenched joint, or some bad weather, and the cane is mighty useful (walking poles are another option). I’ve also been very grateful I kept their wheelchair–we had it immediately available when my husband needed it.
This isn’t a material prep, but if there is any medical tool that needs electricity, or age-related hardship due to loss of power, let the power company know. My dad was on oxygen, and having him on record with the power company meant that he would come up as a priority if our power went out.
One final idea that graphically points up the need for some of these preps you’ve listed… Read the book “One Second After.”
Hi Rhonda, good idea, I didn’t know we could do that with the power company! Thank you! Linda “One Second After” and “Lights Out” if they don’t open up someone’s eyes nothing will! Linda