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As Gen X and Boomers Age, They Confront Living Alone

For many solo adults, the pandemic highlighted the challenges of aging.

Ms. Selman, the 55-year-old professor, lived in Terre Haute, Ind., when Covid-19 hit. Divorced for 17 years, she said she used the enforced isolation to establish new routines to stave off loneliness and depression. She quit drinking and began regularly calling a group of female friends.

This year, she got a new job and moved to Normal, Ill., in part because she wanted to live in a state that better reflected her progressive politics. She has met new friends at a farmers’ market, she said, and is happier than she was before the pandemic, even though she occasionally wishes she had a romantic partner to take motorcycle rides with her or just to help carry laundry up and down the stairs of her three-bedroom home.

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She regularly drives 12 hours round trip to care for her parents near Detroit, an obligation that has persuaded her to put away her retirement fantasy of living near the beach, and move someday closer to her daughter and grandson, who live in Louisville, Ky.

“I don’t want my daughter to stress out about me,” she said.

Watching their own parents age seems to have had a profound effect on many members of Gen X, born between 1965 and 1980, who say they doubt that they can lean on the same supports that their parents did: long marriages, pensions, homes that sometimes skyrocketed in value.

When his mother died two years ago, Mr. Miles, the videographer, took comfort in moving some of her furniture into his house in New Haven, Conn.

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“It was a coming home psychologically,” he said, allowing him to feel rooted after decades of cross-country moves and peripatetic career explorations, shifting from the music business to high school teaching to producing films for nonprofits and companies.

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