High profile Melbourne criminal lawyer, John Weller, came from a very close family. He watched his parents’ decline into poor health and the debilitating effect of attending many different doctors, nursing homes and hospitals. He believes that a healthier lifestyle and preventative measures can help the financial and emotional drain caused by an ageing society.
Today as our ageing population soars, John’s basic concerns are:
(i) a large gulf exists between medical practitioners and natural and complementary
(ii) the majority of conferences world-wide tend to focus on anti-ageing and associated expensive products, emphasising looks and promoting plastic surgery and products like botox. Speakers are often linked to conference sponsorship;
(iii) there is a need for ‘evidence-based’ knowledge from ‘whatever source’ – western scientific, natural or ancient wisdom’ – to promote longevity;
(iv) healthy ageing programs should be introduced as a routine part of clinical practice;
(v) policy makers, medicos, researchers and government officials should strive to get the general public to educate themselves as to how they might grow old gracefully.
John and his team want society to accept rather than deny the ageing process, to aim for health and happiness in their latter years. To achieve this, over the past six years, he and health researcher son, Noah, have worked on a series of international conferences on healthy ageing and longevity.
The first conference – Sydney 2004 – attracted 60 of the world’s leading researchers and health clinicians, who were impressed that speakers had no agenda to promote specific products. Brisbane will host the second in March this year. John plans to personally help fund the conferences for 10 years, by which time he hopes they will be self sufficient.
A sign of the inaugural conference’s success was the formation of a non-profit charitable entity called ‘The International Research Centre for Healthy Ageing & Longevity’. 18 world scientists and researchers became members and pledged support. At this year’s conference many speakers will not accept a fee – such as Ruth Ostrow, writer of The Australian newspaper’s Body and Soul column, who will give a lecture on sexuality and ageing.