A survey of 150 non-institutionalized Coloured persons over the age of 65 years living in Cape Town was undertaken to examine their psychosocial, psychiatric and medical condition. This article covers procedural and psychosocial aspects; Parts II and III will deal with others. Overall, respondents were poorly educated, with low income and occupational status. Social functioning and life satisfaction were reported to be good in over 80%. Family and social support appeared to be strong. Many respondents were involved in household duties (87%), child care (46%) and activities outside the home (66%). The high degree of satisfaction in the face of economic adversity may be due to family support and role maintenance. Findings are compared with those of previous studies, and the possibility that changes in circumstances are occurring is noted.