Empowering Older Adults in Senior Living

Senior Living
CPW assisted living ladies

Posted: December 21, 2023

Written By: Chris Pogar | Former Executive Director of Cappella of Pueblo West

Empowering older adults in senior living is paramount for fostering a sense of autonomy, purpose, and well-being. Recognizing and respecting the individuality of each resident is fundamental to this empowerment. Empowering older adults in senior living goes beyond meeting their basic needs; it involves creating an environment that honors their wisdom, values, and aspirations, ultimately enriching their overall quality of life and ensuring a fulfilling and dignified aging experience.

Fostering Purpose, Independence, and Dignity for Older Adults

Healthcare at its essence is meant to provide health-related services for those who need it, but in senior living, we do so much more than that. We provide an environment where older adults are empowered to live with purpose. A core value of this community is to not just survive but thrive! Empowering older adults to make their own decisions takes some of the codependency out of the senior living lifestyle and helps put residents back in control of the things they wish to control. Regarding the topic of empowering older adults, Ping Kwong-Kam writes, “It is effective in strengthening elderly people’s contact with the community, eliminating elderly people’s negative self-image, protecting elderly rights, and increasing their capacity to influence policy-making.” (Kwong-Kam, 1996.)

If you look back on memories of being a child and having your parents make most of your decisions for you; what you eat, when to go to bed, what the routine was for the day, you may get the memory of feeling controlled. While these directives may have been in your best interest, there was still a feeling of helplessness. As you reach adulthood, you find a greater sense of empowerment, ownership of your life, and pride in how you do things. This feeling doesn’t change as you continue to age. Put yourself in the shoes of an older adult who has made their own decisions for decades and now are not allowed that privilege. How would that feel?

Empowering Adults in Decision-Making and Community Building

One thing that I’ve found that makes the move to a community smoother is to include the potential resident in the decision-making process. When the resident feels caught off guard by the move from their long-time home into what they perceive as a “facility,” they may be uncomfortable at best, or fearful at worst.

Most communities in the senior living industry are doing great things to help make their place feel more like home, but that can only go so far if we don’t help residents make it their home. Many things are being done now that help make this transition from new home to “my home” smoother. Resident councils are one means by which residents can actively engage in decision-making and community building; these could be opportunities to provide feedback on aspects of daily living, such as the food being served and activities being offered, or to share one’s individual talents or preferences with the community. These resident councils, or resident-led activities, help with empowering older adults to pursue their passions and live with purpose.

Challenging Ageist Narratives

In an ageist society, there is a pervasive belief that we must “care for our elders.” This way of thinking tells older adults that they need someone there for them in order to feel safe—stripping away some of their personal freedom and control. 

The late Doris Roberts, the Emmy-award winning actress who was in her seventies during the T.V. show “Everybody Loves Raymond,” testified at a Senate hearing for the Special Committee on Aging, stating, “My peers and I are portrayed as dependent, helpless, unproductive, and demanding rather than deserving. In reality, the majority of seniors are self-sufficient, middle-class consumers with more assets than most young people, and the time and talent to offer society.” (American Psychological Association. 2003.)

Doris’s sentiment echoes what we try to convey to the residents at Cappella of Pueblo West every day through our interactions and by offering options and choice. Residents have the autonomy to make their own decisions and determine what is best for them and their community. As more senior living communities move beyond solely providing health-related services and shift to a philosophy that supports empowering older adults, perhaps our perspective on aging will be embraced as a time for continued personal growth and purposeful living.


About the Author

head shot Chris Pogar
Chris Pogar Former Executive Director at Cappella of Pueblo West, a senior living community serving older adults and their families in southern Colorado.

Get In Touch With Us

We’re here to answer your questions and to help infuse everyday with joy & happiness. Fill out the form below to connect with a representative.

Cappella of Pueblo West respects your privacy and never sells or trades your personal information.

Thank You For Contacting Us!

Here's what you can expect next.

You contacted Pueblo West for more information

2 We will call you at:
(555) 555-5555

You'll speak with a Senior Living Advisor

During the hours of:

Mon-Fri: 8am - 5pm

In the meantime, check out the following resources:

Cappella Pueblo West Senior Living Community is managed by Christian Living Communities and offers person centered assisted living. Cappella Pueblo West Senior Living Community is located in Pueblo West, Colorado and services the areas in and around Pueblo, Stone City, Penrose, Wetmore, Stem Beach, North Side, Vineland, Avondale, North Avondale, Fowler, and Boone. We also are an ideal senior community for those in the zip codes 81007, 81008, 81001, 81003, 81005, 81240, 81253, 80926, 81244, 81226, and 81006.

Our Community

A Neighborhood of Cappella Living Solutions

Cappella of Pueblo West adheres to all regulations as written in the Americans with Disabilities Act and The Fair Housing Act and accordingly prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, familial status, disability (whether it be mental or physical), or sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation).