Text by Rachel Mason
Image from Shutterstock
Diving can be strenuous. There are tanks to lift, currents to fin against, boats to clamber back onto, waves to walk through.
So, we know it’s important to be in reasonable shape for excursions beneath the waves, but does this mean that there is an upper age limit to your diving career? In short, no, but there are things you need to consider if you want to happily dive on into your golden years.
Contraindications & Health Screening
A contraindication is a condition, or circumstance, that would preclude you from diving at any age; however, you need to be particularly aware of those that can develop with advancing years, e.g., heart disease and type II diabetes are considered to be contraindications by DAN. Annual “Fit to Dive” or health screening is a great idea to keep your diving activities alive and finning. Take your “Fit to Dive” certification with you to avoid any problems when you get to your destination!
In the event of an emergency, could you manage a prolonged surface swim, or a buddy tow? Consider changing dive destinations and enjoy environmental conditions that might be less strenuous – warmer waters with great visibility and less current, combined with more conservative dive profiles and increased surface interval times.
Our dexterity can deteriorate with age, and our ability to carry out our “skills” is for our safety, and that of our buddy, so a periodic check that you are able and confident in doing them is important. Can you retrieve your regulator from way over your shoulder? Ask the DM or Instructor to do a “skills check” with you on the first dive of the trip. Regular skills circuits will also help to keep your circuits sharp…
On and Off the Boat
“Can I hand my gear up to the crew from the surface'”, “Can I get out of the water?” Some of us have never accomplished a dignified fin up onto the boat edge – more of a heave and face plant into the bottom! But in all seriousness, are you still strong enough? Research options like getting help kitting up or using the ladder, and just as suddenly you are ready to rock and (back) roll!
Go Shopping – Really.
Advancing years is a perfectly legitimate excuse, (sorry, reason), to update your gear: a BCD that is lighter, easier to get in and out of; more powerful fins; and reduced wetsuit wrestling. What are you waiting for?!
As we age it becomes more difficult to visually focus on objects dose to you, and whilst an SPG at arm’s length still works, this is not great news for photographers or macro enthusiasts. It is not a happy occasion when you can’t see the pygmy seahorse, let me tell you. Fortunately you can solve this “age-old” problem with replacement prescription lenses or inserts in your mask.
This is an excerpt from an article from Scuba Diver Issue 3/2017, which can be purchased here.
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