Active Ageing and Third Sector Organizations in Italy
As amply evidenced by recent sociological reflection as well as by specific initiatives sponsored by the European Union (European Year For Active Ageing 2012), the number of volunteer and pro-social activities offered by the elderly for other elderly persons and persons belonging to different generations has increased markedly over the past decade. The concept of activity related to the social role that the elderly can play through participation in such third sector associations will also be explained.
To outline this social role played by elder volunteers in Italy we performed synthetic indexes and a cluster analysis (with SPAD software) on a stratified randomized sample, representative of the Italian active older adults aged 65-74 years (N=146) engaged in pro-social activities in third-sector organizations. The analyses show that, in providing aid to others, these active elders establish a strong support network for themselves. We have also found that Italian third-sector organizations are intergenerational, in terms of co-existence of young, adult, and elderly volunteers, which contributes to the well-being of all the stakeholders involved. Coming together on a regular basis stimulates the activation of behavioral, material, interpersonal and communicative resources. Volunteering in later life is associated with reinforcement of self-fulfillment and formation of one’s social identity. Furthermore, thick networks of social relations at the micro and meso (ie. community) levels facilitate older people’s inclusion in voluntary work.