This article argues that the social quality approach can be usefully applied to studying “models of elderly care“ that enhance the wellbeing of the elderly and empower them to participate in social activities. Examining three cases in Japan and another three cases in e Netherlands, the study identifies actors, institutions and processes that have provided services for the elderly, highlighting the importance of history and culture in influencing the “social“ of the elderly. The article deals with a range of opportunities and possibilities for optimizing care for the elderly, both as individuals and as a group, through promoting their social inclusion, social cohesion, socio-economic security and social empowerment. Grounded in community networks, as well as in social and intergenerational interaction, these “models“ demonstrate how care-givers, including nurses and family members, are also empowered in these processes. These discussions, reflecting empirical reality and conceptual insights, provide the basis of sustainable welfare policies that improve the social quality of the elderly.