The value of being self reliant has always been highly prized. Now it seems that you are judged by the abundance or lack of personal ties. The socially rich as it where have close knit families, friends and acquaintances from old jobs and every new venture they try. Where ever they plant themselves, they grow a branch of new buddies.
Aging makes any and all attachments more tenuous through potential loss and physical relocations. You hold on to as many contacts as you can. Your social sphere is populated with everyone from barely there Facebook friends to the real golden oldies that pop up from the past and still have a place in your life.
Many in the boomer generation have thoroughly embraced all things WiFi and digital to keep tabs by text etc., some have not. Others see it as artificial and a game not to be played. The opportunity is there to add/multiply new people connections. Hopefully your world is still inhabited by more than only contacts with messages on a screen.
It is another challenge for older seniors and boomers who have not been able to mesh with the newness of all the shiny objects of communication. They rely on the traditional social graces of the friend or neighbor who calls or stops by. As transportation options wane , trips out to social functions become less possible.
There are those who wrap themselves in cocoon of only remembering past relationships. I wrote a while ago about someone in a retirement facility that lamented that despite the number of new people there, she was too old to make a new best friend. There is a self fulfilling philosophy that nothing can be as good as the old days.
What does this have to do with aging in place, actually a lot. Technology steps up everyday to give us more ways to communicate remotely. We can have online shopping and delivery of medications, groceries. We can listen to any music, information podcasts and create a castle of our own self sufficiency and entertainment. It can also divide us. I fear that much of the current political rancor is causing more divisions between people.
No one can tell a true introvert to just get out there and make friends. Volunteer…it is for your own good! Loneliness is now being heralded as an actual disease of the elderly, as if older folks need something else pinned on them. This article in the NYT lays it out as well as others. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/30/health/loneliness-elderly.html?hpw&rref=health&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region®ion=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well&_r=0
In reading the comment section, it is filled with the much of the same ‘just do it’ advice. That does not work for everyone. You can be alone but not lonely. The ease and comfort of connecting digitally may be the ultimate solution of our ‘go it on our own’ generation. Aging and especially aging in place will challenge the range of the choices in how we connect with others. Moving forward in life does not have to be a subtraction of all things past. You can follow your own path and still recognize opportunities to really connect to others along the way.