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.

The Decade of Healthy Ageing (2020-2030) is an opportunity to bring together governments, civil society, international agencies, professionals, academia, the media, and the private sector for ten years of concerted, catalytic and collaborative action to improve the lives of older people, their families, and the communities in which they live.

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). Many are inextricably linked and all will require collaboration with many key partners. Healthy Ageing will not become a reality without focused global action, and these ten priorities provide the path forward.

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


As the WHO Global Network for Age-friendly cities and Communities welcomed its 1000th member, the Government of Spain and WHO hosted the first ever Hispanic conference on age-friendly cities and communities. Mayors, practitioners, academics and older adults from 14 Spanish speaking countries gathered in Madrid, Spain on 14 – 16 October to share and exchange a wealth of knowledge and experience on how to create rural and urban environments that enable older people to be and do what they value.

News and events

International Day of Older Persons 2019:
New ICOPE Tools Launched

The theme for 2019's International Day of Older Persons (1 October) was "The Journey to Age Equality". Recognizing that universal health coverage means health for all at all ages, WHO has launched a innovative package of evidence-based tools to support the implementation of the Integrated Care for Older People (ICOPE) approach. ICOPE helps key stakeholders in health and social care understand, design, and implement a person-centred and coordinated model of care to address the diverse health needs of older people.


ICOPE Handbook: guidance for person-centred assessment and pathways in primary care

1 October 2019 - The ICOPE Handbook is part of the Care for Older People (ICOPE) package of tools, and helps community health and care workers put the recommendations outlined in the ICOPE Guidelines into practice. The Handbook assists with setting person-centred goals, screening for loss in a range of domains of intrinsic capacity and assessing health and social care needs to develop a personalised care plan.

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