Media Release

Pandemic sees a rise in helicopter children

09 November 2020


Stockland, one of the country’s largest retirement living village operators, has released new research that shows the pandemic has given rise to ‘helicopter children’ as Australians place more focus and attention on their parents than ever before. Adult children are now more likely to worry about their parents’ safety in their retired years, with four in five (80 per cent) becoming more conscious of their parents’ health, wellbeing and vulnerability.

Adult children are placing a greater priority on family ties now more than ever before, and indicated that they now feel closer (42 per cent) to their parents and are making more of an effort to stay in touch (63 per cent). The study also highlighted that one in five Australians feel that their relationships with their parents and family have improved since the onset of COVID-19.

Older Australians have similarly become significantly more aware of their own vulnerability (73 per cent) and are more conscious of their health and wellbeing (71 per cent). This has led to more than half of soon-to-be retirees rethinking their retirement plans and 45 per cent re-evaluating where they want to live in their later years.

Kirrily Lord, General Manager of Stockland Retirement Living Communities, said: “With people placing a greater focus on wellbeing, safety and health recently, there has been a shift in the way older Australians are thinking about their futures and priorities. There has been more of an emphasis placed on connection with community, safety, proximity to healthcare, services and shops, and the ability to see loved ones.

“We’re also seeing more Australians play an active role in supporting their parents’ retirement decisions in order to help safeguard their health, independence and connectedness. It seems that adult children are now looking out for their parents more, just as their parents traditionally have looked out for them.”

Despite the pandemic causing worry and angst, the research suggested that those living in retirement villages have fared better. Retirement village residents were significantly less likely to worry and significantly more likely to be optimistic, positive and feel safe.

Consequently, residents believe in their overwhelming majority that their retirement village has served them well during the pandemic with almost three quarters (72 per cent) feeling safer than they would have living on their own, two thirds feeling less lonely, and more than half feeling more cared for.

Dr Sarah Cotton, Psychologist and Co-Director of Transitioning Well, says “The Stockland research reflects the impact of the pandemic on Australians' sense of connection and their life priorities. Spending months apart from loved ones has reinforced the importance of family and for Australians to consciously and proactively keep in touch, especially with older parents.

Following the shock of a big event like the pandemic, it’s normal for people to be more concerned about their parents in their retirement and for older Australians to rethink where and how they spend their later years. Adult children of retirees are often part of the growing ‘sandwich generation’ - combining care of younger children and older parents with paid work and their own lives. It is not surprising that with different priorities and increased pressures, this generation wants to influence their parents’ plans in order to make life more manageable for themselves too.

After so much disconnectedness and uncertainty, the notions of community, connection and wellbeing are as important as ever for older Australians and wider society.”

Interestingly, the research shows that adult Australians and their parents prioritise different aspects in retirement;

● While children see the security and safety of their parents as the number one priority (30 per cent), soon-to-be retirees and retirees make it priority number three only at 15 per cent and 17 per cent respectively.

● Being close to family has become the most important factor in retirement for two thirds of seniors, topping financial independence (64 per cent) and safety (62 per cent).

The safety of retirement villages provides comfort for Australians who are now more likely to encourage their parents to move into one to safeguard their health and safety. Adult children are significantly more comfortable with the idea of their parents living in a retirement village (65 per cent) and over half of retirees now more open to living in one (52 per cent).

Ms Lord continued: “Community and connection remain an important factor in the wellbeing of all Australians, but are particularly critical to ensuring retirees thrive and enjoy the freedom, fun and independence of living in a retirement community.”

Stockland has launched its 2020 retirement living spring campaign this week. Visit for more details.