By Harriet, Editor At Large
Prepping is slightly different I think once you become what we call here a senior citizen (ie over 60 years) as we have six decades of life experience to look back on. Sometimes our fears of the future have been realised. Other times our fears proved groundless. Often we wonder how we will be in our later years. I have been through personal SHTF times and one personal TEOTWAWKI when my world fell apart in many areas at once.
When I turned 60 I did a thorough reevaluation of my life: my achievements, my failures, my strengths and my failings. I bewailed the number of mistakes I (and my husband) had made in our finances over the years and worried about how we would manage in our retirement without a decent nest egg and with declining health. I wished I could be 20 again and start with the knowledge I have now.
Then it came to me at that 60 year old point that I was likely to be only half way through my adult life – 20 years childhood, 40 years raising a family and working, 40 years as a senior citizen. Not only was I only half way through my life but I had all that knowledge I wished I had had at 20 already, now and so could do the things I should have done at 20 to benefit myself in later life, and without the added charge of having children.
To me this was a major wakeup call. I may have another 40 years of life. That is a very long time to stagnate or hope that this second half of our adult lives would be something different from what it was. I wanted my second half of life to be enjoyable, productive and be contributing positively to my community.
In order to be able to do that, and to avoid being one of those doddery old 70 year olds always visiting the doctor and wondering how to pay for my medication I made it a priority to find a way to have a healthy second half of life.
As its been my academic career to be a health researcher – along the way getting a PhD exploring what survivors of serious disease all had in common – I have some back ground knowledge in this area. I know about the psycho-social-spiritual components of healing and health having done research in this area, but I was lacking in the physical area and nutrition. For this I’m trialling a paleo/primal/BALi (basic, high antioxidant and anti fungal diet, low insulin) way of eating. I’m eating a diet high in vegetables and grass fed meat (where possible) with limited fruit and almost no sugar, no grains and no legumes. In common with many others I’m finding that many of the so-called degenerative diseases of ageing are disappearing. I am getting healthier rather than getting worse and medication use is reducing rather than increasing as it is for many of my friends and associates.
I also walk daily, have taken up karate and and do various volunteer jobs in the community, including working at a thrift shop.
Becoming healthier is urgent. At 60 I might have as long as I had between 20 and now; that is 40 years, and I certainly don’t want to feel ill for most of that time. Fortunately my regimen has meant that my four autoimmune diseases have (almost) gone into remission and my osteo-arthritis isn’t giving me much problem now my general health has improved.
Now this is a prepping blog. Mostly our minds turn to prepping for disasters – cyclones, fires, financial collapse and many others. But we also need to prep for our old age. We usually think in terms of managing financially with less money than we have had up until now. But when health professionals think of older people they think of falls, and of the damage they do when they fall. It is one of Seniors biggest risks. They fall, break their hips and die after an excruciating few days. Or, more fortunately they fall and hit their head sporting a black eye and bruised body for weeks and months as their bodies have run down and they become slow healers. Doctors also think of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks, diabetes, arthritic pain and increasing disability which all require multiple and increasing numbers of medications which they, fortunately, can prescribe at a price.
As seniors who want to prepare well and who feel self-responsible in our lives we attempt to take charge of our bodies and to feed them what they need to be a fast healer and ideally not to need healing in the first place. Stocking up on medications we need is sensible and we should all find a way to stash a years supply over time. But even better is to become sufficiently healthy that we don’t need those medications any longer and so we don’t deteriorate to the point where we need more.
For goodness sake we don’t want to spend half our lives taking drugs to manage conditions. We want to be healthy, and fit and have fun and do stuff. If we have a diagnosed condition we want to get better.
As mentioned there was a time I had a range of auto-immune diseases. The doctors were grave but left me in no doubt. There was nothing that could be done to recover. They didn’t know what caused them and I wouldn’t get better but they would do their best to help me manage the difficult times ahead.
Here I get slightly religious. I believe in God and I believe that God is good and heals. Just because the doctors didn’t know what to do didn’t mean that God wouldn’t show me a way out. Then if healing was possible for one person (me) then that meant to me that healing had to be a physiological process. There must have been some physical pathway to the process of healing and recovery. All I had to do was find it. And obviously what I had to do was different from what I was doing or I would already be better. So I had to change. That change was initially focussed on the psycho-social-spiritual components and latterly on the physical through diet, supplements and exercise.
Doing karate has improved my mobility and agility a huge amount. From being almost immobile on my feet and worried about falling over in my kitchen I can now bounce around on my feet practicing blocking punches and attacking a partner in his early 20s and being as good as he is. I still don’t have the skill to deal with a real attacker, but I can now turn and run, something I couldn’t do a couple of years ago. I am no longer unsteady on my feet. I no longer worry about falling. And when I have fallen on occasions when I’ve overdone it at karate I don’t do any damage; I sort of roll and then get up easily. That is another thing. I used to find it very difficult to get up off the floor. Now its easy and I have multiple ways of doing this.
Note: I wouldn’t have been able to do karate when I was in the middle of an autoimmune flare up as that causes pain everywhere and the muscle pain caused by exercise would just be too much. I avoid flare ups by eating modified paleo as I mentioned.
Have I got this health thing totally sorted? Of course not. I do have weeks and months when I’m on a downward trajectory again – usually each winter. Then I have the problem of turning from slight ill health to improving health and this isn’t easy. I have to re-evaluate everything I know and put it all together again. However some things are central:
Stabilise my blood sugars – avoid ALL sugar, including dried fruits
Eat only meat and vegetables avoiding grains, legumes (beans, etc with lectins that set off my immune disease), nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers).
Reduce stress right down.
Do everything to improve my sleep.
I know that as we age we start to degenerate. However what I have discovered is that this is less to do with being “natural” and more to do with the long term consequences of a poor lifestyle of too much sugar and flour based products. So I’m doing what I can.
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