Learn about differences in older adults' strengths and needs


In adulthood, a person's age doesn't predict their abilities or needs. Some older adults run marathons into their 80s, while others in their 60s have multiple health conditions.


Many older adults live independently, taking care of their own banking, shopping, cooking, home and health. Family and others close to them might:

  • Discuss plans and priorities with them

  • Ask about their financial and legal arrangements

  • Ask how they would want to handle health or other emergencies

  • Look into local programs and services for older adults

Other older adults live independently, while getting help with cleaning, managing medications, transportation or other tasks. Family and others close to them might:

  • Help arrange for in-home services and delivery of groceries, meals or medications

  • Look into devices, tools or home modifications that make tasks easier

  • Discuss health and housing plans

  • Ask who they would want to help them with health, decision making, financial management or transportation, if needed

Some older adults live with injuries, chronic conditions or pain and need help with daily tasks like bathing, dressing and eating. Family and others close to them might:

  • Help with daily needs, transportation, health or other tasks

  • Arrange for personal care or home health services

  • Work together and with health professionals to address concerns

  • Discuss more supportive housing options

Older adults who are physically frail, seriously ill or nearing the end of life often need intensive personal and nursing care. Family and others close to them might:

  • Discuss health and priorities with them and their health professionals

  • Ask what care they do and do not want, towards the end of life

  • Help with any housing changes, or financial or legal decisions

  • Arrange palliative or hospice care to manage pain and provide support

  • Talk through any relationship issues, like anger and resentment