My parents grew up at a time when they knew their neighbors, would invite them over for coffee, and would walk next door to borrow a cup of sugar. This hasn't been the way I interact with my neighbors in my adulthood. Busier lives, women working, the TV and the Internet have all influenced changes in the way we socialize. Take a look at the way homes are built. They aren't built with front porches that invite social get togethers anymore, we build back-yard havens with privacy fences instead.
These differences are strikingly apparent when you visit different housing communities. I was at an open house at Lee Square in Robbinsdale this weekend. Lee Square is a 50+ active adult community that exemplifies the kind of community spirit younger generations just haven't experienced. There were women going grocery shopping together, a group of people sitting outside enjoying the weather, people greeting each other in the lobby and asking "How are the kids?". One way members of the silent and GI generations define themselves is through their community--their neighbors and social networks. Subsequent generations such as the Baby Boomers and Xers have a different definition of social belonging--very seldom will a Baby Boomer say their "community" is their immediate neighborhood.
Tip: When it's time for you, your parents or other elder to start looking for new housing, consider the implications of the community. When you go to look at senior housing go on a Saturday morning and make time to sit in the lobby. Be a part of the community. For our elders, the community will be as important a consideration for happiness as the square footage of the apartment, and other senior housing amenities.