A study on ageing in Ireland has found there are significant indications of undetected illnesses among people over 50.

The report by Trinity College Dublin also highlights the large voluntary contribution the over-50s make to society and childcare.

The study - Fifty Plus in Ireland 2011: First Results from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing - is the most comprehensive report conducted on ageing in the country.

Over 8,000 people aged 50 years and over were interviewed between 2009 and 2011 about many aspects of their lives, including issues such as health, financial circumstances and quality of life.

The participants also underwent health assessments.

Among the key findings is the important contribution of older people to their families and communities with a third providing household help to their children and nearly half providing care to grandchildren.

The report also finds significant indications of undetected illnesses among older people.

However, a large majority of those interviewed say they are happy with life.

The participants will be interviewed again every two years until 2018.

It is hoped the findings ensure a better understanding of the lives of older people so that resources can be targeted where there is greatest need.

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly has said that most people he knew over 50 did not need home help.

He also said his priority would be to ensure there were no cuts in this area and that there would be an increase in home help hours.