The apparent size of an object can influence how we interact with and perceive the weight of objects in our environment. Little is known, however, about how this cue affects behaviour across the lifespan. Here, in the context of the size–weight illusion, we examined how visual size cues influenced the predictive application of fingertip forces and perceptions of heaviness in a group of older participants. We found that our older sample experienced a robust size–weight illusion, which did not differ from that experienced by younger participants. Older and young participants also experienced a real weight difference to a similar degree. By contrast, compared to younger participants our older group showed no evidence that size cues influenced the way they initially gripped and lifted the objects. These results highlight a unique dissociation between how perception and action diverge across the lifespan, and suggest that deficits in the ability to use prediction to guide actions might underpin some of the manual interaction difficulties experienced by the older adults.