This longitudinal study used a multi-disciplinary approach and examined the relationship between psychosocial and health characteristics and the pattern of informal and formal support for non-institutionalized very old people. The data were derived from a single cohort of 80-year-old people living in Lund, Sweden who were followed over a 3-year period. In order to account for potential sample bias, an analysis at 80 years measured the differences between the participants who were measured at both test periods, the drop-outs who discontinued from the study prior to 82 years, and the deceased who died prior to 82 years (n = 212). Results revealed that the groups differed significantly according to reported number of children and health measures: the participants were most likely to have children and exhibited the best health. Bivariate analyses examined social, psychological and health variables for survivors (n = 93) at both 80 and 82 years in relationship to independent, informal, and formal support type. Loneliness was significantly and consistently associated with support type at both 80 and 82 years: both frequency and strength of loneliness were most often reported in the formal support group. Depression was significantly related to support type at age 80 only. Looking at change in the psychosocial and health measures and change in support over the 3-year period, no significant relationships were found. Our study concludes that for the very old, in addition to requiring increased support over a 3-year period, loneliness is a significant characteristic that may accompany the receipt of support. Professionals who plan and implement social support programmes for elderly persons should also consider emotional and psychological needs.