Aim The aim of this paper is to consider the process of ageing, the effects of ageing and research related to ageing. Background In most countries of the world, the UK being no exception, the population is ageing in terms of the absolute numbers of and relative proportion of older people. This has resulted from economic, scientific and medical progress. However, it poses challenges for health and social services. Method Selective review of the literature. Conclusion Ageing is an inevitable part of life and, while not in itself debilitating, can be accompanied by a range of debilitating physical and mental conditions which lead to frailty and dependency. There is limited evidence that the ageing process can be alleviated, as such, but there is some evidence that choices and circumstances in early life can influence the extent to which we age successfully. Implications for nursing management Nurse managers have two responsibilities with regard to age: they are increasingly engaged in organizing care for older people in acute and long-term settings and in nursing homes and the more they need to understand the process of ageing. They also have responsibilities towards their workforce and can facilitate lifestyle choices which may help their workforce to age successfully. © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.