You Can’t Predict the Future, But You Can Prepare for it!

We recently saw yet another “End of the World Prediction“ come and go. What’s the next Y2 event, the end of the Mayan Calendar in 2012? Retirees would do well to ignore doomsday conspiracy theorists and the like.

Instead they should listen to state and local authorities. Just as there are basics required for wilderness survival, there are basic items required for emergency situations at home and while driving. I understand It is human nature to be last minute, but please I encourage you to plan properly.

The Facts

The US annually experiences 10,000 – plus severe thunderstorms, 2,500 – plus floods and 1000 – plus tornadoes. Extreme shifts in weather increase the propensity for perfect storms inflicting more severe damage than normal (Katrina, Japan, Sandy).  Consider that the West’s biggest natural disaster threat is fire. The East is typically experiences  brown – outs (The grid). Terrorism can’t be ruled out as a possibility either. Heat waves results in more deaths nationwide than all other natural disasters combined.

Climate Change

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reports long droughts of five years or more will occur 40 percent of the time during the next 50 years. Retirees are the most susceptible to harm from heat waves. Heat related deaths (mostly seniors) make up the greatest number of U.S. annual fatalities outpacing all other natural disasters.

This news does not bode well for fighting forest fires in the West, the biggest natural disaster threat. The Western region’s costs associated with fighting fires is significant; especially with already strained state budgets.

The Federal Agency report projects a 9 percent decrease in the Colorado’s Rivers volume annually in the next half decade. This will likely accelerate the increased costs for water across the state of Colorado as well as increase the cost of food production in Colorado and the other seven states that depend on the Colorado River for its water supply. This summers drought will increase the cost of beef next year due to higher feed prices.

Retirees may wonder what is the actual link between climate change and the economy?How exactly does climate change impact their pocketbook? Retirees would do well to ignore doomsday conspiracy theorists and the like. Basically the fact is the combination of explosive population growth and climate change make the cost of food and energy continuously rise. This assertion is based on science.

For example we’ve seen food prices cause turmoil in the Middle East recently which negatively impacts the cost of oil. This results in higher food prices here at home due the trucking industry increased costs being passed on to the consumer.

As food prices rise again and again the cycle repeats itself. “Large Scale Agriculture” depends on oil and water and favorable weather to produce food at a cost the public will accept.

Proper planning adds an additional layer of increased self – sufficiency to their current retirement plans. Many future retirees have awakened to the idea that the only one they can truly count on is themselves. This is prudent given rapidly changing climatic and economic paradigms. The new Mantra is “be prepared for the worst and hope the best”.

Heat Wave Puts Elderly at Risk


It was 3:00 PM when Linda noticed her elderly neighbor had not been out to pick up her paper nor opened her windows. A heat wave had kept temperatures near 100 degrees all week long. When Linda knocked on her neighbor’s door, Megan, 88 years old answered immediately. “Is it morning yet?” she asked confused at why Linda was at her door. Linda noticed that Megan’s eyes were sunken, she was disoriented and dizzy. The temperature in her house was well over 100 degrees. A call for an ambulance saved Megan’s life. She was extremely dehydrated and suffering heat exhaustion.

With the hot summer heat upon most of the nation and temperatures topping 100 degrees, dehydration and heat exhaustion are a high danger for the elderly. Illnesses relating to aging, medication and the body’s aging process cause a quicker reaction to the heat than someone younger.

An elderly person may not recognize what is happening until life threatening conditions have become evident. Family and friends can save the lives of their loved ones and friends by simply checking on them daily during the hot season and knowing the danger signs .

The Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlists signs to watch for in elderly with heat exhaustion and fatigue:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Skin: may be cool and moist
  • Pulse rate: fast and weak
  • Breathing: fast and shallow

A few simple steps can help someone suffering from the heat. If they do not have air conditioning, provide a fan to move the air around and see that there is plenty of water within reach of their chair or in the refrigerator. Freeze some bottled water to set on their laps or in their chairs to help lower their body temperature. Encourage them to take a cool shower during the hottest time of day. Take them on an outing to a mall or other air conditioned facility. Check the hours and activities at local Senior Centers where they can spend some time during the day.

Volunteer services extend extra time in the summer to check on the elderly. Meals on Wheels volunteers in Mid-South make a point to leave extra water with daily meals.

Shelby County Senior Services volunteer staff check on dozen of residents most susceptible to hot temperatures. The Humboldt State University youth volunteer group helps seniors throughout the year.

Neighborhoods are filled with people who are dog walkers, bird watchers, joggers, walkers and baby strollers. This summer let’s add elderly helpers to that list. Just being an alert neighbor may save a seniors life.

It Won’t Happen to Me!

Featured in AARP’s “The Magazine” May/June 2011 edition, THE REAL SOCIAL NETWORK tells the story of Eleanor and her husband Jim both 82 at the time barely surviving a power outage that lasted for nine days. “No heat, no water. Nada, “Eleanor recalls.

It is human nature to be last minute even with 50 plus years to plan for it. A retiree’s current traditional retirement plan should remain status quo. Adding an additional layer of increased self – sufficiency to their current retirement plans is more critical now than ever.

Recently foiled terrorism plots in the US have revealed a growing interest in targets such as smaller cities, electrical power plants, nuclear power plants, waters sources, bridges and trains. Cyber terrorism; a real threat which often times aims to bring down power grids supporting most of America’s electrical energy needs. Bio –terrorism, pandemics, epidemics are not out of the question.

Retirees need not build bomb shelters. Whether it is natural disasters, terrorism or economic issues causing temporary breakdowns in the infrastructure; retirees should prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Retirees can have peace of mind no matter what the future holds.

With the advent of the 24 hour news cycle retirees are inundated with disaster news stories. Many retirees are flooded (pardon the pun) by media and consequently they’ve become matter – of – fact about things they shouldn’t be matter – of – fact about. Still others worry needlessly because they are unprepared or feel alone (isolated) with family spread out across the US.

Retirees need to have the basics covered in their current home and vehicle. State authorities recommend retirees be prepared to be self-sufficient for a minimum of 72 hours in the event of an emergency. A week is probably a better goal.

Just as there are basics required for wilderness survival, there are basic items required for emergency situations at home and while driving. Medications, important papers and plans for the elderly, infants and disabled, pets, and livestock are often overlooked.

Please visit  or substitute colorado with the name of the state you live in) it will take couple of hours to knock this out and be a good first step in the creative retirement planning process. If not now, when, If not you, who?


About Roger O'Keefe

My background is in education and finance. I'm a published author and photographer, former radio talk show host, and creative retirement planning expert. My work is a love of labor, I do not sell any products of any kind. I've appeared as a guest on more than 50 national and local television and radio shows. With a Masters in education, I'm a licensed educator and author of the “Future Bright Program” and the California State Department of Education “Teacher Appreciation Program.” I'm a member of the American Association of Retired Persons and the National Care Planning Council NCPC. I'm currently writing my second book and reside in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. My mission is to reshape retirement planning one person at a time. Please visit my website and take advantage of the many complimentary online seminars, resources, and retirement planning tools.
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