SHTF Tasks for All Ages and Abilities

SHTF Tasks for All Ages and Abilities

When we think about our SHTF survival communities, we tend to picture ourselves surrounded by strong, skilled family, friends, and neighbors working full tilt to keep the unit going. The reality is, however, that many of us will have people in our groups who are quite young, elderly, or physically disadvantaged. Heck, many of us are becoming the older people in our own groups! Obviously, there are many aging, infirmed, or disabled people who are quite capable of performing far more tasks than are discussed here today. But for those whose abilities have become restricted, let’s discuss some ways to contribute that you may have overlooked. If you yourself fall into this category, you may also discover ways to use your talents that you had not previously considered.

Homeschooling kids is a great SHTF task for an older person

Helping with the Young’uns

  • Childcare – If the grid goes down, how will a family handle childcare for three kids under five and still do what they need to do for survival? Someone who can keep an eye on the kiddos would definitely be a huge help.
  • Homeschooling  – Having a “teacher” on board frees the parents to tend to more physical tasks.
  • Teaching Skills – There will be plenty of people in your group who are physically able to handle specific tasks but lack the knowledge of how to do them safely and efficiently. Another member may have the skills for those tasks but not the physical ability. Between the two, you have everything you need to accomplish that task! This is also a great area to get the kids involved. The younger a skill is acquired, the longer you have to master it!

Holding Down the Fort

  • Meal Prep – Slicing and dicing should be fine for many to handle. Watching the oven or stovetop is another low-energy chore that can really help out.
  • Recipes – Chances are, older members will have already lived through some tough times and will know how to stretch a meal for all it’s worth.
  • Guard Duty – Most people, regardless of strength, can sit and watch an area for a shift. If they cannot yell or move quickly, a panic alarm might be an excellent way to alert others and scare off intruders.
  • Scheduling – If there is a group member who is unable to leave the central location, why not put them in charge of the schedule? It’s important to know where everyone is and what they are doing. A less able person might be a great fit for the central scheduling hub!
  • Medical Monitoring – From time to time, you may have additional people who are injured or ill. Someone with limited capabilities could monitor the patients for significant health changes and alert someone if necessary. This frees a stronger member to do things other than watch the sick beds all day.
  • Firetending – If a fire is your primary source of cooking fuel or heat, it might be helpful to have someone there who can toss more logs into a woodstove or fireplace to keep the flames going while others are out of the area


  • Radio Monitoring – If you have access to any kind of news reports, it would be a great addition to have someone who could monitor available stations and update everyone else as appropriate.
  • Radio Communication – Gift a ham radio, license guide, and exam handbook to an older prepper and ask them if they’d be interested in handling that responsibility in your SHTF tribe.
  • Checking for Messages – Some preppers have a plan only to attempt comms at certain times of the day to conserve power. (Ex. “Only text at the top of the hour”) Having someone around reliably to send or receive communications can be invaluable in disaster situations.


  • Frugal Ideas – Older tribesmen/women probably have more than a few frugal tricks up their sleeves!
  • General Knowledge – A lot of us were alive when most of our modern-day conveniences didn’t exist – We can remember how things were done before that!
  • Oversight / Instruction – This is great for helping to pass down new skills and knowledge to younger or less experienced group members.
  • Inventory – Get an accurate inventory of food, tools, medical supplies, hygiene items, pet supplies, cleaning supplies, etc.
  • Finances -Someone is going to have to stay on top of finances. This is another excellent assignment for someone who is less mobile than others.
  • Home Remedies – When the healthcare system collapses, and prescriptions become hard to get filled, turn to Grandma for some tried-and-true home remedies.

Older members can help with food prep and help teach the skill to youth

Food Prep

  • Gardening / Weeding / Harvesting / Seed Gathering
  • Food Preservation
  • Butchering – Some people may be able to assist with breaking down small game or advising on techniques for larger prey.
  • Bread Baking – Who wouldn’t want to come home to a warm slice of homemade bread after a hard day of physical labor!
  • Chopping, Dicing, Shredding – Even just having the onions and peppers diced by a person with a broken leg would help the main cook, after all!
  • Meal Assembly  – Maybe there is a soup or stew on the fire cooking all day. A home-based person could help serve people a hot meal as they return home at the end of the day.

Low Impact Chores

  • Mending
  • Knitting – winter items like blankets, hats, mittens, scarves, sweaters
  • Fishing – Even taking a group of younger fishermen to the stream can be helpful if you/they can no longer fish independently
  • Laundry – After all, the laundry is never done in SHTF
  • Pet Care – Getting the dog some water or throwing feed to the chickens can help keep everything running smoothly.
  • Sanitation  – Counters will need wiping. Floors will need sweeping. Things don’t clean themselves, after all!
  • Housecleaning – Any help with tidying, no matter how minimal, is ultimately a big help in the grand scheme of things.

Teach a child a SHTF skill and allow them to apprentice

Get the Kids Involved!

There are plenty of things that younger SHTF community members can help out with!

  • Weeding – Weeding the garden, walkways, flower beds, etc.
  • Harvesting – I don’t know about you, but my grandkids LOVE picking vegetables from my garden. Send them out there with a basket, show them what to look for, and voila!
  • Meal prep – Shucking corn, shelling beans, and snapping beans are all small chores children love
  • Pet Care – Once they are no longer toddlers, children can be responsible for small chores to help care for age-appropriate pets.
  • Apprenticing  – Now is the time for the kids to learn some skills! Have them tag along and watch if they are super young. Older children can actively participate in learning new skills from more experienced people.
  • Gathering Firewood – Depending on the area where you bug-out/bug-in, you may be able to send the wee ones out to gather sticks and kindling for fires
  • Visually Checking Traps – While they may be too young to hunt or butcher, children can help visually check traps and report back if further action is necessary.

All Hands on Deck

As you can see, almost everyone can share in the important responsibilities of being part of a survival community. Every person comes with different abilities and life experiences and, as such, can contribute in their own unique and valuable way.

Do you have plans for the elderly, young, or infirmed to join your group? Do you fit into one of those categories yourself? What other ideas do you have on how everyone can become an integral part of the team?

Additional Resources:

SHTF Tasks for All Ages and Abilities

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Chris Richards

Chris a mid-level prepper who lives in Eastern Pennsylvania, USA and loves taking courses to increase her skill set. She enjoys gardening and finding ways to be better prepared through preservation and newly acquired knowledge. Her favorite pastime is swapping stories with her octogenarian Dad with a similar mindset.

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