Goodbye, generation gap: young and old become more connected through combatting COVID-19 

New research conducted by McCarthy & Stone, the UK’s leading developer and manager of retirement communities, has revealed that the COVID-19 crisis has seen a significant narrowing of the generation gap.

The research, conducted through the collection of data and fieldwork assessing younger generations (18-59-year olds) and older generations (60+ year olds) across the UK, sought to understand the perception of generations between each other and how this may have shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results showed that 60% of both generations have spent more time speaking with each other since the start of COVID-19 pandemic, with each finding comfort and leaning on the other for support throughout the crisis. This has led to increased knowledge sharing, with younger generations (58%) seeking wisdom from older relatives, neighbours and friends, while the older generation (63%) have called on younger generations’ skills, including their technological ability.

The majority of these COVID-19 sparked conversations have been taking place over more traditional means of communication, with 74% of respondents speaking over the phone, bucking the trend of overreliance on text messages and emails.

The British public are clearly enjoying these closer ties, as the research shows that no one wants this connection to end, with 77% wanting to spend more time with other generations once the country emerges fully from lockdown. McCarthy & Stone will be leading the charge to support this strengthened intergenerational connection, launching a Senior Experts Panel that will help maintain communications between all generations through new interactive platforms and initiatives. On top of technology trials that have helped connect McCarthy & Stone homeowners to their friends and family during this crisis.

Fast stats:

  • Intergenerational communication has increased dramatically in recent months. 60% of both generations state they have spent more time speaking with each other since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 76% of younger and 80% of older generations wish to spend more time communicating with each other post-COVID-19
  • Generations have sought comfort from one another - 52% of older and 46% younger generations gaining comfort from increased contact with each other
  • Generations are citing different reasoning for respecting each other, which centred and pulled from various global crises.
  • For younger generations, WW2 is seen as the greatest factor of resilience building in the older generation (55%), and they respected the older generation for their ‘keep calm and carry on’ mentality (45%).
    The older generation saw the younger generations’ optimism (51%) and courage when facing extreme lockdown measures (42%) as reasons for an increase in respect.

Not only will the bonds between generations remain closer post-COVID-19, it may also see a large shift in perceptions of getting older. In fact, 59% of younger generations believe that the experience of COVID-19 will mean that society will value the older generation more.

Once lockdown ends, McCarthy & Stone will continue their commitment to supporting and tailoring their services to society, and specifically the shift in attitude and appetite for generational connection.

CEO John Tonkiss said, “We have seen a lower impact of COVID-19 in our developments, than the general over 65 population, and this proves more than ever that our communities are safe, resilient and supportive places to live.

“The UK must now collectively learn the lessons from this crisis and redefine how best to support our ageing population. We need a joined-up and long-term plan, starting with more and better housing for older people and stronger intergenerational communication.

“It’s fantastic to see that the generational gap is declining and, once again, young and old are respecting and actively seeking to learn from one another. We’ll ensure that McCarthy & Stone will be at the forefront, nurturing this societal change.”

McCarthy & Stone Homeowner, Mrs Madeline McManus said, “This has been a truly horrible period for so many people. One of the silver linings for me, has been how much more time I’ve spent speaking to my children and grandchildren - I’ve even done a few quizzes with them! 

McCarthy & Stone have been such a support to me throughout this period whilst I’ve been voluntarily shielding. My family showed me how to video call and being able to feel close to them even though I can’t be with them has been a blessing. I think we will continue to talk more regularly in the future, it’s shown us how easy it is.”

McCarthy & Stone will launch their Senior Experts Panel next month, to support the strengthening of connections between today’s younger and older generations.