Author(s): Higgs PF, Quirk F
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Abstract Lifestyle factors have been identified as being very important in determining health in later life. Nutrition, exercise, and social environment all interact to promote, or to limit, opportunities for an active and healthy post-working life. Not only are rates of chronic illness and disability reduced through the promotion of healthy lifestyles, but also quality of life is maintained through the compression of morbidity. Governments in Australia, as in the European Union and North America, have highlighted the importance of behavioral change in health promotion strategies with the aim of having an impact on the health-related lifestyles of their populations. This paper examines the example of a group of older Australians, the "grey nomads," who may present opportunities for examining health-related lifestyle changes. The term grey nomad refers to a portion of the older population in Australia who choose to use their later years and retirement as opportunities for travel and leisure, mainly within the confines of the Australian continent. As such, they are similar to groups in North America, such as the "snow birds," who travel to the southern United States to escape the colder winters of more northerly latitudes. Similar seasonal migrations occur from Northern to Southern Europe. What all share in common is an active culture/lifestyle of attempting to "age successfully." Grey nomads also participate in the creation of what can be termed postmodern communities, where they and other regular travelers may develop a sense of community feeling with others who are also regularly returning to the same spot year after year. Social support is highly predictive of health outcomes and such mobile communities may prove a positive factor in promoting good health. In this paper we examine whether the "grey nomads" represent a good model for improving health-related lifestyles in later life.
This article was published in Ann N Y Acad Sci
and referenced in Journal of Tourism & Hospitality