It is noteworthy that while modernisation, together with population ageing, has happened in Western countries for a rather long period of time, China must confront the challenges of an ageing population before it really becomes an advanced industrial society. Facing rapid societal changes, citizens may react differently to this process. By conducting questionnaire surveys with 445 elders in Wuhan, China, this study examines Chinese older adults' individual modernity modes and reveals its socio-demographic correlates. The results show that facing rapid changes in societal modernisation, participants have reacted differently to this process, with 23.8 per cent of Chinese older participants using an accommodation mode, 27.0 per cent using a resistance mode, 13.3 per cent using a withdrawal mode and 36.2 per cent using a coping mode. In addition, socio-demographic factors such as urban–rural residence, age, gender, socio-economic status, living arrangement and daily activities have been identified as significant correlates of Chinese older participants' individual modernity modes. It is further suggested that governments at all levels should allow for options and opportunities for older people to align themselves in the modernisation process by removing the barriers that may hinder their integration and empowerment efforts. While it is important to respect older adults' different responses in the face of modernisation, their participation in societies should be encouraged and respected by the wider society in the context of modernisation.