This paper discuses the context and implications of nursing as a social force in regard to quality of care for the aged. The demographic transformations and its consequences in the WHO regions of the Eastern Mediterranean and Europe are discussed in their relation to socio-political, economic and educational developments and epidemiological changes. It is postulated that nursing has the choice of becoming a social force through raising its awareness of the new reality of a sizeable dependent population with chronic diseases. Nursing knowledge and research, the sharpening of political skills and the refinement of caring skills have the potential for influencing health care policy and long-term care services toward quality health care for the aged. Special attention is given to the use and misuse of concepts as self-care and appropriate technology. The final proof of nursing's willingness and ability to act as a social force will be in the allocation of efforts and resources in different countries. The value of nursing's contribution to the actual care of the aged will depend upon careful ethical considerations, as much as upon knowledge and influence.