ABSTRACT The ability to follow instructions is critical for learning new skills and may support successful aging. Recent evidence indicates a close link between following instructions and working memory, and that action-based processing at encoding and retrieval can improve this ability. In this study, we examined the ability to follow instructions and the benefits of action-based processing in young and older adults. In Experiment 1, participants were presented with spoken or silent demonstrated instructions, then recalled them by oral repetition or physical enactment. Older adults produced fewer correct responses in all conditions. Both age groups were better at recalling demonstrated than spoken instructions in the verbal but not the enacted recall condition. Older adults also benefited from enacted recall relative to verbal recall, but to a smaller extent than younger adults. In Experiment 2, the additional benefit of dual modalities (spoken instructions with simultaneous demonstration) relative to single modality presentation (spoken instructions, or silent demonstration) was examined. Both age groups showed superior performance in dual modality conditions relative to spoken instructions when using verbal recall. These findings suggest that although following instruction ability appears to decline with age, older adults can still benefit from action at encoding and retrieval.