Objectives: To determine the general health and social status of elderly persons surveyed in Trinidad and to explore issues of loneliness.
Method: An island-wide survey of persons aged 65 years and older was conducted in early 2002 in Trinidad. Eight hundred and forty-five (845) elderly persons were chosen using systematic random sampling. The main survey instrument for data collection was a questionnaire that included structured as well as open-ended questions. The subjects were chosen in a house-to-house survey conducted in all eight counties in Trinidad. Elderly people who were unable to comprehend the questions were excluded from the survey.
Results: Those selected ranged in age from 65–102 years and represented all the ethnic groups in Trinidad. These elderly persons lived in a wide range of housing situations. The majority lived in the homes of family members (57%) and 16% lived on their own. A large proportion (80%) had at least one chronic medical problem, although 44% reported their health as “fairly good” or “good”. More than a half of the males (53%) and 67% of the females were taking at least one prescribed medicine. The main sources of income were old age pension (85%) and National Insurance (15%). Thirty-three per cent reported feelings of loneliness. This figure includes 28% of those who did not live alone.
Conclusion: The data revealed that across all ethnic groups more than one-third of the sample reported themselves to be in fair to good health. Many of these elders were lonely because their relatives were quite occupied with their own affairs.