From the Doctor's perspective it's been a long time. But the Doctor was on other planets (such as Trenzalore), and in other times.
As far as Rose, Martha, Donna etc. are concerned they've only aged a few years, and been living on Earth (or Pete's World Earth) the whole time, without time travelling. They haven't aged any more than you have.
In fact, the Doctor went off for 200 years (his time) between series 5 and series 6 and came back to see Amy and Rory again only a year or so (their time) after he'd left them, and of course they'd aged only a year.
Of course some companions, like Amy and Rory, Vicki or Jamie McCrimmon, left the Doctor in the past, so they are dead as of 2017. But even then (except for the special case of Amy and Rory), there's no reason the Doctor has to visit Earth in 2017—just as he can go to 1599 and see Shakespeare, he can go to the Homeric period (about 1200BC) to see Vicki or to 1790 to see Jamie again, as long as he's careful not to cross his own timeline.