Social support in older people: lessons from a developing country
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the level of social support in older people presenting to the Emergency Department of a tertiary hospital in Trinidad. \ud \ud Methods: This was a prospective observational study, assessing social support in patients ≥65 years presenting to the Emergency Department, using the Sarason Social Support Questionnaire. \ud \ud Results: One hundred sixty-two respondents aged 65 years and older were included. Respondents reported a median Social Support Questionnaire Score (SSQS) of 4.83 and number (SSQN) of 1.67, which did not differ significantly between genders and ethnic groups. Patients who presented via ambulance had a significantly lower SSQS (4.33 vs. 5.16) and SSQN (1.33 vs. 1.92) than those who arrived by their own transport. Respondents reported far greater median family scores (1.33) than non-family scores (0.00). \ud \ud Conclusions: This study contributes to the understanding of social support for older people in developing countries. The dependence on family support in developing countries may prove challenging in the long term as family structures in these countries change with economic pressures. More extensive research is needed into the phenomenon of social support for older people in developing countries, particularly with the impending expansion of this age group in these countries.