Asthma in older people is common and is characterised by underdiagnosis and undertreatment. Ageing is associated with unique issues that modify expression, recognition, and treatment of the disease. In particular, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) both overlap and converge in older people. This concurrence, together with absence of precise diagnostic methods, makes diagnosis complex. A multidimensional assessment that addresses airway problems, comorbidities, risk factors, and management skills will draw attention to key needs for intervention. Increased attention to the complications of asthma and obstructive airway disease in older people is needed, specifically to develop effective systems of care, appropriate clinical practice guidelines, and a research agenda that delivers improved health outcomes. Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.