Ageing and Life Course

An intergenerational family looking into the camera.
Judith Escribano/Age International

Populations around the world are rapidly ageing. Ageing presents both challenges and opportunities. It will increase demand for primary health care and long-term care, require a larger and better trained workforce and intensify the need for environments to be made more age-friendly. Yet, these investments can enable the many contributions of older people – whether it be within their family, to their local community (e.g. as volunteers or within the formal or informal workforce) or to society more broadly.

Societies that adapt to this changing demographic and invest in Healthy Ageing can enable individuals to live both longer and healthier lives and for societies to reap the dividends.

International Day of Older Persons 2017

1 October 2017 - WHO is celebrating this year’s International Day of Older Persons by highlighting that universal health coverage can’t be achieved if we leave older people behind. Universal health coverage is the foundation for achieving the health objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals, and a crucial step towards building a future where we are able to participate, contribute and exploit our talents into older age. Universal health coverage, that meets the needs of older adults, is technically and financially possible.

Global strategy and action plan on ageing and health

To ensure adults live not only longer but healthier lives, a Global strategy and action plan on ageing and health was adopted in May 2016 by the World Health Assembly. This Strategy focuses on five strategic objectives and is a significant step forward in
establishing a framework to achieve Healthy Ageing for all. It includes a call for countries to commit to action, and develop
age-friendly environments. It also outlines the need to align health systems to the needs of older people, and the development of sustainable and equitable systems of long-term care. It emphasises the importance of improved data, measurement, and research,
and involving older people in all decisions that concern them.

World report on ageing and health 2015

Comprehensive public health action on population ageing is urgently needed. This will require fundamental shifts, not just in the things we do, but in how we think about ageing itself. The 2015 World report on ageing and health outlines a framework for action to foster Healthy Ageing built around the new concepts of functional ability and intrinsic capacity. This will require a transformation of health systems away from disease-based curative models and towards the provision of older-person-centred and integrated care. Making
these investments will have valuable social and economic returns, both in terms of health and wellbeing of older people and in
enabling their on-going participation in society.

Towards an Age-friendly World

September 2015 - Cities and communities world-wide strive to become more age-friendly. They seek to better adapt to the needs of
their ageing populations. But what are they actually doing? Browse the new database to find out. Small measures can make a big difference. They are shared here by communities, for communities.

Areas of work

The Department of Ageing and Life Course organises its work according to the 5 strategic priority areas identified in the Global strategy and action plan on ageing and health 2016-2020.

1. Commit to action

2. Age-friendly environments

3. Health systems that meet the needs of older people

4. Long-term-care systems

5. Data and research


10 Priorities for a Decade of Action on Healthy Ageing


The 10 Priorities provide the concrete actions that are needed to achieve the objectives of the WHO Global strategy and action plan on ageing and health. Each priority is crucial to enable the world to take on a decade of concerted action on Healthy Ageing (2020-2030).

Have your say

Global Online Consultation on Research Priorities for Healthy Ageing

WHO/TDR/Sebastian Oliel

Research must include and benefit older people by answering relevant questions in innovative ways. This global on-line survey is part of an open consultation to identify research priorities on Healthy Ageing.

WHO welcomes and encourages response from all institutions, groups and individuals with an interest in ageing and health.

The short survey is available in six languages (English, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, French and Russian) and all responses are anonymous. Contributions are accepted until 30 September 2017.


ICOPE Guidelines (Integrated Care for Older People) - just released

Integrated care for older people requires a transformation in the way health systems are designed and operate. Services need to be oriented around and responsive to the diverse needs of older people. These evidence-based guidelines propose changes to the way in which health care professionals, working in these services, can prevent, slow or reverse declines in the physical and mental capacity of older people.

Contact us

The WHO Department of Ageing and Life Course (ALC) coordinates WHO’s work on ageing and health, which takes place in many different departments and at all levels of the Organization.

Department of Ageing and Life-Course (ALC)
World Health Organization
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva 27

The ALC Team