What the Elderly Can Teach Us About
Survival Skills

Survival Knowledge from our Elders
These are my parents - I have learned much from them.
(Yes, the smallest "toe head" is me - in my mother's arms.)

I love hearing stories from my parents of their life before I was born. Don't you?

My mother tells how, as a young girl, her mother worked at a department store and her father did all the cooking, canning, gardening, and raising chickens, even though he also had a job.

She had a brother who helped, but her dad treated her like a "princess" so she never had to learn how to run a household.

She truly regretted that lack of knowledge when she chose to take on the role of wife, housekeeper, and motherhood — but through necessity and practice, she soon learned.

She became an excellent cook, very efficient housekeeper, as well as learning to freeze and can all the fruit growing in our yard, consisting of apples, pears, raspberries, peaches, apricots, cherries, and plums. She turned out bottles and bottles of fruit along with a variety of jams and jellies. I remember as a child, a difficult few months when we actually survived on these bottled fruits, plus the bread she baked and milk from the farm up the street — and that's all we had for every meal. (I loved those meals - picky eater that I was.)

Thinking about a worst case scenario, we might want turn to the older generation for help and solutions. Why? Because they lived preparedness all—the—time. It was a way of life — not a conscious effort to be prepared. Many of the modern conveniences and technologies that we have didn't exist. I'm not talking about going back to the days of the one-room school house and everyone plowing their own fields just to put food on the table (although some of that still exists). But everything now is within easy reach or a mile or two away — or Amazon sends it in the mail.

Older folks know about dial-up phones, typewriters (what's that?), and push lawnmowers. Ask them how to cook on a wood-fired stove and create every meal from scratch. Don't know how to can fruits and vegetables? Ask your mom or grandma to teach you.

Can you grow a garden, wash clothes without a washer, or keep the house clean without a vacuum? Do you have a good broom and a non-electric washer? (Check these non-electric washers out on Amazon.)

If we were to lose electricity for years, who would we turn to, for instance, for knowledge to make an old car, without a computer, run again? Probably grandpa.

We are SOOO dependent on electricity and our computer-run electronics. I hope we can survive without them if we ever need to. (You might want to build your own emergency power system.)

Yes, some older folks may not be able to do the really physical chores in a crisis, but they have years of knowledge and experience about life and living. They have lived through good times and difficult times. They have learned from the "school of hard knocks", self education, as well as mainstream education.

They are a valuable resource that we should not ignore. Let's not discount the wisdom and vast knowledge of our elders, nor their ability to contribute to any crisis event. There are so many ways they can be of immeasureable help. This is only a short list.

  • Childcare — They have already had years of experience raising children, so this is a natural and would free parents to take on other, maybe more physical, survival tasks.
  • Teaching — Take advantage of their decades of experience and knowledge, teaching values and cultural traditions. The younger generation needs to know these and who better to teach them than grandma or grandpa.
  • Schooling — If the schools are shut down (and they would be in certain crises), older family members can take over the schooling of the younger generation, teaching them reading, writing, math, history, and science.
  • Housekeeping — There are so many tasks that need to be done to keep living quarters running smoothly, clean and orderly. Older family members can do many of those tasks — an extra pair of hands is always helpful.

Are we taking advantage of their knowledge - right now - before we really need it?

Some non-electric items you might need:

These do very well for non-electric vacuuming. They are "sweepers" and that's all there was before modern vacuums. But they are still used and work quite well.

This cool little Wonderwash machine would be awesome when the electricity is off. It could even be used now - camping, boating, washing delicates. Just turn the handle until clothes are clean enough.

I don't know how well this hand washer works, but I have one. I should give it a test run, shouldn't I.

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