From a nursing perspective it is important to have information about the type of care needed, the reasons care is needed and quality of life among the most elderly people living in their own homes, in order to support their independence and maximise their quality of life. Thus a study was performed to investigate people aged 75 years and older dependent on care from professionals and/or a next of kin, their functional health, diseases, and complaints in relation to quality of life as perceived by themselves. The sample (n = 448) comprised those who, in an age-stratified randomised sample of adults living in their own homes, responded that they were dependent on help from others. The questionnaire covered sex, age, living conditions, civil status and number of children and cohabitation, respondents' health, diseases, quality of life, help from another person, and the type and amount of help received. The number of elderly persons dependent on help ranged from 18.5 to 79.1% in the different age groups. The help came mainly from informal carers (84.1%), and, in 53.1% of cases, from the home help service and home nursing care. Help from formal caregivers was given in combination with that from a next of kin in 38.8% of the cases. More next of kin than formal carers helped in all Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) and Personal Activities of Daily Living (PADL) tasks, with the exception of cleaning the house and providing a bath/shower. Although the respondents received help themselves, they also helped another person in 6.5% of cases. The elderly reported a median of three diseases and ten different complaints of which pain and impaired mobility were the most frequent. Between 20 and 40% of the respondents in the different age groups reported restricted ability to be alone and one third of them reported low or very low quality of life. Multiple linear regression analysis showed the number of complaints, restricted ability to be alone, living alone and age to have a significant relationship on low quality of life.