The health of 'grey nomads': On the move and under the radar?
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'Grey nomads' are common on Australian highways. Anecdotal evidence suggests they impose a significant burden on rural/remote health services, including GPs, pharmacists, and hospitals. There have been calls for better resourcing and provision of services, but little reference to good evidence on which to base this. A literature review revealed that quantitative research is limited and largely confined to the tourism literature. Several good qualitative studies have illuminated the experiences of grey nomads. Although health has not generally been the primary focus, useful information has emerged. Like other older Australians, many grey nomads have chronic diseases and high rates of medication use; however, they seem somewhat healthier than their peers. Many are well prepared for travel, but they nevertheless impose a burden on health services, which is poorly documented. This literature review, the first to integrate the limited evidence for a health audience, provides a good starting-point for future research. There is a need for basic epidemiological research, extending the evidence base about the health of grey nomads, and the use and effectiveness of self-care strategies; health systems research, clarifying the demands made on health services; and investigation of strategies to optimise grey nomad wellbeing and healthcare utilisation.