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Spotlight on ageing well

Jean Hailes news 17 Jun 2024
Group of women at the gym laughing

How one woman’s generosity is supporting women in Australia to age with courage and confidence.

Like many older women, Kate Gibson understands what it’s like to feel overlooked and underestimated. Last year she decided to do something about it.

No, she did not reach for age-defeating face creams or age-defying surgery but instead decided to fund a healthy ageing project to support other older women to age with confidence and conviction.

The project, undertaken by Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, asked women about the information they needed to help them age well. The result is a suite of resources to help them manage some of the challenges of ageing.

It’s a radical way of thinking in a society that celebrates youth. But at 73 years of age, Kate was not prepared to go gently into invisibility. After all, she belongs to a generation of women shaped by feminism and roused by a desire to be better, to do better.

It is that last motivation, that desire to do better, that is the driving force behind her ambition to support older women in ageing well.

I would like older women to find the fountain of youth that lies deep within themselves. It has less to do with how they look but more about how they feel, a belief that despite the passing of the years, they’re not yet ready to give up."

Kate Gibson, Alan and Kate Gibson Foundation

“Ideally, I would like older women to find the fountain of youth that lies deep within themselves,” she explains. “It has less to do with how they look but more about how they feel, a belief that despite the passing of the years, they’re not yet ready to give up.

“Older women still have a lot to give.”

The seed of her ambition was planted during a board meeting of the Alan and Kate Gibson Foundation, a philanthropic body that she and her husband started several years ago. Alan, her husband of 54 years, is a keen supporter of medical research. It’s his way of thanking the medical profession for saving his life when he was diagnosed with stomach and oesophageal cancer. Kate embraced the initiative. But, as the years passed and as the only woman on the board, she felt it was time to do something specifically for women.

Joining forces with Jean Hailes, an organisation dedicated to improving women’s health and wellbeing, seemed to her to be a logical fit.

“It’s a pleasure to be working with a role model like Kate,” says Sarah White, CEO of Jean Hailes.

“Kate and her friend, Di Purdue, who was a key adviser, were very clear that they wanted us to ask women what information they needed to age well, and they wanted this information produced in a way that reinforces why older women should feel good about themselves and why they should be kinder to themselves.

“Kate and Di are obviously women with their fingers on the pulse of what women need as they age; as we had more than 1000 women participate in our healthy ageing survey.

“These women talked about the challenges of ageing – pointing to issues like social connections, loneliness, pain, diet, exercise and cognition.”

The suite of resources developed by Jean Hailes include web pages and fact sheets about healthy ageing, covering topics such as physical activity, bone and joint health, good nutrition, social connection, as well as intimacy and safer sex.

The health needs were identified not just in the survey but also through a series of interviews to draw out detailed information on what older women want.

I’m ageing and a lot of other women are ageing too. And I think it’s important for us to feel as comfortable as possible – even good – about that fact.”

Kate Gibson

“I’m ageing and a lot of other women are ageing too,” says Ms Gibson. “And I think it’s important for us to feel as comfortable as possible – even good – about that fact.”

All rea­son­able steps have been tak­en to ensure the infor­ma­tion cre­at­ed by Jean Hailes Foun­da­tion, and pub­lished on this web­site is accu­rate as at the time of its creation. 

Last updated: 
10 July 2024
 | 
Last reviewed: 
12 July 2024