This paper is based on data from focus group discussions and in-depth individual interviews carried out in two slum areas, Korogocho and Viwandani in Nairobi, Kenya. It discusses how the division between domestic sphere and public sphere impacts on survival during, and adaptation to old age. Although this paper adopts some of the tenets of the life course approach, it posits that women's participation in the domestic sphere may sometimes give them a ‘gender advantage’ over men in terms of health and adaptation to old age. The paper also discusses the impact of gender roles on the cultivation of social networks and how these networks in turn impact on health and social adjustment as people grow older. It investigates how older people are adjusting and coping with the new challenges they face as a result of high morbidity and mortality among adults in the reproductive age groups.