I have just been sent a link to a grey nomads web site in Australia. For those who haven’t come across this expression it seems to apply to retirees who spend their retirement wandering around the country in caravans or the more sophisticated mobile homes. There are also grey nomads who constantly go on trips overseas. The main difference is that this group keep their homes as a base for their travels.
I’m not sure what my position is on either group. The latter group seems to be environmentally wasteful in terms of the fuel their trips overseas cost as they leave a huge footprint which current research suggests we need to be aware of in terms of dwindling fuel reserves and the carbon aftermath.
I believe that throughout life we need to have a purpose which gives us not only satisfaction that we are achieving something worthwhile but it gives us status in society. This tells ourselves and others who we are. Being older doesn’t take this need away from us. If we are constantly moving around the countryside we use less fuel than the overseas travellers but neither group has status, a place in society.
There is some criticism of the first group such as the fact that usually they only mix with fellow older people and they put a strain on local health services wherever they are. They don’t spend much in the community where they stop as they tend to cook for themselves. An exception to this are the people who combine the nomad life with seasonal work such as fruit picking. I think there is a booklet out which locates such seasonal work opportunities so they know which areas to head for. This group mixes with the locals and fellow pickers of all ages and contribute to the local economy. These people have status and would be so used to mixing with a wide variety of people that settling down once they no longer have the urge to move on wouldn’t be a problem.
One of the biggest problems of ageing is the rising number of us who develop dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. I wonder if we can prevent this by using our brains more actively and I think, hope, that having a purpose in our lives can do this. If our lives consist of constantly moving around the countryside does this really exercise our brains enough? Sure new places are always interesting but how much brain exercise does this provide?
The other side of the coin is that there have always been nomads, or whatever we want to call them, in all societies. Our original ancestors were nomadic as they followed their animals, which provided for their needs, around. Then we learned about crops and settled down in fertile areas where we could pen our livestock. I don’t know when the gypsies and similar groups evolved but these are among the minority of people who find a settled lifestyle doesn’t meet their needs. Are today’s nomads descendants of these who have curtailed their nomadic instincts until later life? The other group in this mix are those who become nomads to try to escape ageing and use travel as a way of filling in time in their retirement.
This is all very complicated. If anyone knows of worth while studies done on this group please let me know.