May 28, 2012, 5:39 PM
Post #1 of 71
A couple of years ago I broke the fatalaties down by age and was surprised that the over 50s contibuted about 30%.
As health problems, sucu as heart disease affect older people more, at what age should jumpers consider regular checkups?
I suspect the recent Oz fatality was health related, based on the news reports. There was also the South African one in the last couple of months.
I am approaching 40 and decided that I would have a heart stress test every 2 years after the South Afrcan death. I've often been asked why I am out of breath after a jump and the incident prompted me to get a checkup. Fortunately in my case I discovered that I have excersize induced asthma and a $5 puffer has literally changed my life. Really wish I had known 20 years ago...
A good friend of mine is 70 in just over a month and still skydives. Yes he does take things a bit slower, but has check-ups regularly. I just hope that I am in the same position as him when I am his age.
It is a great idea to have regular check up regardless of age. Also regular exercise can make a difference. But you have to take it case by case. Never sell old guys short.
“Age and treachery will beat youth and skill every time”
I'm certainly not trying to undermine old guys. It does seem that with age a new/different set of problems arise and most people aren't aware of their new limits. My grandfather stopped driving at 70 as he did not want the indignity of someone having to take his car keys away (something he had been forced to do on a few occasions). I am guessing the same principle applies.
Fortunately in my case I discovered that I have excersize induced asthma and a $5 puffer has literally changed my life. Really wish I had known 20 years ago...
I have both exercise-induced and allergen-induced asthma but in my case I have never had to use my puffer at the DZ. But cases are different and I take one dose of my turbohaler (powder) every morning. (Lowest dosage possible, works great with me.)
BTW: Have you been shown how to use it correctly? (I bet you have... just in case. It's shown in a totally wrong way in many (American) movies.)
I started with a thorough medical inspection by an aviation physician because of my asthma. She did some checks, asked whether my medication was regulated correctly and then told me: Son, yer test results are bl00dy good, better than any average smoker, and probably better than any untrained "normal" folks. Being a TI I have to undergo a medical check every three years, so I think I'm being monitored quite well. Additionally I do sports several times a week (nah, additionally to skydiving ) so I guess that sort of explains RR 125/80 at 60 bpm plus a smile of my young doctress^T doctor every time she stethoscopes me. Hah, I coined a verb?
(This post was edited by Abedy on May 29, 2012, 12:14 PM)
I think it's a pretty valid question. I was on a jump with a 65 plus age jumper who landed on an aad fire and was found dead moments later. Since then I have followed the forums and noticed several similar circumstances. Jumper 'appeared' normal until breakoff. Next thing anybody knew, jumper landed unresponsive under an aad fired reserve or went in with nothing out. In Pauls case it was massive coronary failure. I suspect similar problems with recent cases. (And I know of one that survived-Bob W. are you reading this?) Of course, it is up to DZO's what they want to do. But many of us are getting older in the sport and I think you will see even more of this. Skydiving is intensely fun but seriously demanding on the heart.
I was on a jump with a 65 plus age jumper who landed on an aad fire and was found dead moments later. Since then I have followed the forums and noticed several similar circumstances. Jumper 'appeared' normal until breakoff. Next thing anybody knew, jumper landed unresponsive under an aad fired reserve or went in with nothing out. In Pauls case it was massive coronary failure. I suspect similar problems with recent cases.
I can't think of a better way to go. Track away from an awesome skydive, pull, die and let the AAD leave a pretty corpse for the funeral.
If a 20 year old has the right to take themselves out swooping, a 70 year old has the right to have a heart attack in freefall.
Struth! 39 years ago I discovered that chewing gum, sucking on a hard candy or even just a small stone kept saliva flowing, kept my throat moist, bronchial tubes moist and reduced my exercise-induced asthma to almost nothing. I eventually competed in 10 km and 20 km cross-country running races.
Similarly, I have chewed gum on thousands of skydives ... primarily to help clear my inner ears with altitude changes.
However, when I went for my last cardio stress-test, the technician was afraid to allow me to chew gum (for fear of choking) and needed permission from the cardiologist (medical doctor) before I was allowed to chew gum. Towards the end of my treadmill test, I was striding at 160 beats per minute, more than most 54 year-old men can tolerate. The cardiologist reported no problems and complimented me on much better exercise tolerance than most men in their 50s.
Really interesting that chewing gum works for you. Personally until the 'drug' nothing stopped it and I was just convinced I was very unfit.
I remember a person on dz.com getting totally crucified for suggesting chewing gum on skydives to someone else, so the tech wasn't alone
In a recent incident, a great guy showed up at the DZ, he was 69 and full of life. He showed up on his Harley Road King and advised he made 30 or so jumps back in the 70's and wanted to get certified. He had his log book and pictures of him with a rig and belly mount on. (pretty cool). Well a few training tandems later and he was in my FJC. I had some concern as he wasnt very limber, and he didnt respond as quickly as most. I explained it to him and he put in the time to memorize the dive flows and study on his down time, and really train hard on the ground. (persistent guy)
Well he made it to Cat C and repeated a few times before really nailing it. At that moment I thought I might have made the right decision to go forward with him. Great video and a smile ear to ear made us go back up for a Cat D. The dive went okay better than some, it was landing that went a bit haywire. He flew a nice patern into the wind and at flare time only went to his shoulders and in his words. "froze". He did PLF but hit rather hard. He and I knew he injured himself. A week later now he has pins in his pelvis from 4 fractures. Again, he didnt hit all that hard but his age probably was a severe factor. I have seen him several times now and he is still motivated but it looks like a long recovery for him.
Question is, How old is too old? I know it depends on each individual. I have seen some pretty fit older people. But is there a pressure on Instructors to try? Then you see the sos, and Joes and get motivated to help even if it takes longer but is it worth the risk? I have beaten myself up over this one and lost sleep but he assured me he would have done it regardless. Do some DZ's have an age restriction of AFF? I would love to see stats of when most of the JOES started and see if they are mostly jumpers from days of old or if any of them started later in life. Tandems is a totally different picture, as every weekend we are taking 70,80, and even a 92 year old last year. Not a issue as we are introducing them to a great sport and giving them a memory.
Thoughts on how old is too old and if we should have age restrictions to starting? Or maybe have some sort of approval before starting. I dont know.
Thank you. These are adults who have a lifetime of making their own decisions behind them. We have the responsibility to assess them as individuals, for the individual jump they're doing.
My father lost much of his eyesight in his late 70's. He quit driving immediately, but kept riding his bicycle (low traffic times, low traffic areas) for another 7-8 years. Every now and then he'd come back bruised or scraped from having gone too close to a tree or something.
We knew that missing a car coming at him was a possibility. We also knew that we'd feel much worse for the driver of the car than for our dad. What better way to go than doing something everyone says you shouldn't be doing at your age?