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.

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.

International Day of Older Persons 2016

1 October 2016 - The theme for 2016’s International Day of Older Persons was “Take a Stand Against Ageism.” Research has shown that thinking more positively about ageing can increase life expectancy by 7.5 years. In recognising the serious and insidious impact
of ageist attitudes and practices on the lives of older persons, WHO supported a global campaign against ageism in coordination with partners around the world.

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



World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2017

WHO / SEARO / Chadin Tephaval

15 June 2017; Geneva, Switzerland - Around 1 in 6 older people experience some form of abuse - a figure higher than previously estimated and predicted to rise. Governments must protect older people from abuse. Urgent action is needed to understand how best to prevent and respond to abuse, and to help put in place the measures needed.

Paris: 500th GNAFCC Member

Wladyslaw/Wikimedia Commons

19 June 2017 - WHO’s Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities (GNAFCC) welcomed Paris, France, as its 500th member. The Network has grown rapidly to include 500 cities and communities in 37 countries covering over 155 million people, and supports cities and communities interested to embark on the journey of becoming increasing age-friendly.


Creating age-friendly environments in Europe. A tool for local policy-makers and planners (2016)

Age-friendly environments can allow all people to maximize their functional ability. This tool provides practical, step-by-step guidance for policy makers on how to create age-friendly environments. The more we work together to adopt the approach outlined in this guide, the more people can live longer and healthier lives and the more societies can be productive.

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