The purpose of this study was to assess the social and physical environment of older people, their attitudes
to their own health and the prevalence of key age-related health conditions to highlight priority areas for
The SLÁN surveys 1998 and 2002 sample a representative cross-section of the Irish adult population
generated randomly from the Irish electoral register. This analysis considered those aged 55 years and over
(n=1634 and 1754 respectively). Variables considered were age, sex, occupation, education, housing
tenure, rurality, self-rated health, reported illness and lifestyle habits. Chi squared, categorical principal
components and logistic regression analyses were employed.
While all variables considered showed age related trends, a u shaped distribution was observed for those
over 85 years. Indicators of physical activity, those with physically active jobs and those with tertiary
education decreased with age but increased again in the 85+ age group. This trend was also observed for
those who had a drink in the last week, thought they could eat more healthily and take food supplements.
Respondents identifying problems walking and those not sexually active increased with age but decreased
again in both the 80-84 and 85+ age groups. Those not sexually active increase with age but decrease again
in the 85+ age group (SLÁN 02 only). Those who never use contraception decrease with age but increase
again for those over 85.