As the ageing phenomenon continues in India, we explore the care needs of older adults and identify caregivers for specific care needs across living arrangements. Using the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) conducted Building Knowledge Base on Population Ageing in India (BKPAI 2011) data comprising 9850 older adults, we employed statistical methods to analyze the data, find associations and used binary logistic regression to model the adjusted and unadjusted effects of living arrangements on caregiving to older adults for specific care needs. Care-requiring situations considered were acute sickness, sickness requiring hospitalization, chronic morbidity, functional disability represented by ADL and IADL limitations, and locomotor disability. Results indicate that living arrangements of older adults were significantly associated with health, functional status and disability as well as caregiving patterns. Our results suggest that co-residence with children and all others was beneficial to older adults in obtaining care from a family caregiver for their hospitalization and chronic morbidity needs while living with spouse or living with a partner was advantageous for older adults in receiving care for their ADL limitations and during hospitalizations. Mean number of children was also significantly associated with the availability of a caregiver during hospitalization, locomotor disability, chronic morbidity and acute sickness. The study also highlights a little known phenomenon, that there was familial help available to older adults who lived alone. Notably, non-family sources of caregiving were steadily becoming visible (as high as 8–10 % of the caregiving component) especially among older adults living alone.