Skydiver Challenges Attitudes To Ageing — At 104!

So please, let’s all stop saying we are getting old

Andy Murray
Human Parts
Published in
4 min readNov 3, 2023

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This photo provided by Daniel Wilsey shows Dorothy Hoffner, 104, falling through the air with tandem jumper Derek Baxter as she becomes the oldest person in the world to skydive, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Ill. (Daniel Wilsey via AP) Daniel Wilsey / AP© Provided by CBS Chicago

Dorothy Hoffner, from Chicago, jumped out of a plane from 31,000 feet two weeks ago. She was 104 years old! Sadly, she passed away last week. She would have been 105 in December. She was planning to go hot air ballooning next.

Challenging old age is topical just now. A new film, The Great Escaper, starring Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson, tells the true story of a man who escapes from his care home in the south of England to attend the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Caine was 89 when he made the film. He has just announced his retirement at 90.

These stories tie in with something that has been bothering me for a while now. In recent months, both my daughter-in-law and a young colleague spoke about turning 30. Both remarked how hard it was to believe they were getting that old. ‘So how do you think that makes me feel’, I asked. I’m 63! I feel and act 30 — but a younger thinking version of these two.

When I look at my peers, they fall into two camps. The first has a spirit like Skydiving Dorothy. They always appear busy and upbeat. There always seems to be an upbeat, youthful spirit about them. The second has retired into a sedentary lifestyle. They look grey and sad. Conversation tends to be about the weather and health issues. They have aged before their time.

Before I continue, I absolve anyone who, through no fault of their own, has experienced health problems in later life. For many, this is due to circumstances, not life choices. I am identifying an ageing effect caused by attitude. I am starting to believe once you start saying you are getting old, you are old! So why don’t we stop saying it?

I started writing on Medium a couple of months back. I have been focussing on health and wellbeing among older adults and publishing for Crows Feet. (Crow’s Feet — Medium) In researching articles, I came across this one about attitudes to ageing:

Doddery but dear?: Examining age-related stereotypes | Centre for Ageing Better

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Andy Murray
Human Parts

Old Scottish bloke sharing lessons in life. Like Baloo the bear, I seek happiness by keeping to the 'bare necessities of life.'