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ILCSA aims to bridge research, education and policy in all its programmes. It carries out policy analysis and promotes advocacy under each programme, and strives to forge policy development or reform. It currently focuses on promotion of healthy and productive ageing, and the empowerment of older persons towards full participation in society. The programmes, which reflect the mission and scope of the organisation, involve scholars from diverse intellectual disciplines and stakeholders in all sectors.

Overall, researchers investigate a relationship between health, longevity, self-determination and quality of life in old age. Some studies focus, for example, on livelihoods and income security; others on living habitats and personal safety; and others on health care and human rights. Researchers generate and draw on both macro and micro data to analyse situations and to identify emerging trends; evaluate social, health and economic programmes and policy options; and offer conceptual clarification for the development of new strategies and responses.

ILCSA currently conducts three core programmes, outputs of which are aimed at informing stakeholders, creating awareness and forging policy action.