The five stages of aging for older adults are: Independence, Interdependence, Supportive Living, Crisis Management and Dependency. These are also known as the stages of caregiving, which was derived by Dr Mark Frankel.

Last Updated: 24 September 2023

Elderly couple with a younger family member outside their house

We all want healthy aging (healthspan) so that we can take care of ourselves as long as possible.

But, as we all grow older we are likely to need physical and psychological support from friends or family members, this will come in the form of caregiving.

Not all elderly individuals go through all of these five stages. Nor, do they go through all five stages at the same pace as everyone else.

But, we all do go through the different types of aging.

Stage 1: Independence

  • In the independence stage of aging Seniors are completely independent and can perform activities of daily living without assistance.
  • Family should encourage healthy habits to maintain independence, like diet, exercise, and socializing.
  • Seniors should make plans for future care needs and legal documents whilst their cognition is sharper.
  • Emotional support is important during retirement transitions that can impact identity/purpose.
  • Quality time with loved ones helps seniors adjust to changes in this early stage of aging.

Stage 2: Interdependence

  • In the interdependence stage of aging, seniors can still live alone, but need some assistance from family/friends with daily activities.
  • Home modifications like stair lifts may be necessary for safety. Transportation and help with chores/meals are common needs.
  • Mild cognitive decline and chronic health issues make some tasks difficult.
  • Regular check-ins are important even if a senior lives alone.
  • Emotional support is critical as seniors adjust to loss of independence. Anxiety, stress and depression are common.
  • Reassuring seniors that loved ones are there for them can help combat negative feelings about aging.

Stage 3: Supportive Living

  • In the supportive living stage of aging, seniors can no longer live independently due to cognitive decline, health issues, or both.
  • They may stay at home with major modifications and support or move to a facility.
  • Daily assistance from aides or family is required for activities of daily living.
  • This stage is difficult as seniors lose independence, which is stressful for them and loved ones.
  • Focusing on positive moments, quality time together, and community engagement can help.

Stage 4: Crisis Management

  • In the crisis management stage of aging, seniors require care that becomes overwhelming for caregivers.
  • Seniors may require extensive care either in a skilled nursing facility or with professional assistance at home.
  • This level of care is often due to physical health issues or memory conditions like Alzheimer’s/dementia.
  • The transition to dependence can happen suddenly after a medical emergency or more gradually.
  • Moving to a facility allows seniors to get medical care and social engagement.
  • Family visits are still important as seniors adjust to a new environment.

Stage 5: Dependency

  • In the dependency stage of aging, admitting a loved one to a nursing home can improve wellbeing for both the elder and family when homecare is insufficient.
  • 24/7 care in a facility is often safer and more comfortable than patchwork homecare.
  • Seeing a loved one in a nursing home can be very difficult for family members.
  • Resources like written materials, social workers, and family councils can help families advocate for their loved one and deal with grief/loss.
Gary Kirwan

Gary Kirwan

Founder and Host of BioHackers Lab Podcast

Been interested in biohacking concepts and products since first testing what it is like drinking butter in my coffee years ago. My ultimate goal is healthy aging through exercise, diet, social interaction and psychology.