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Challenging Ageism and Making Next Year Younger

An interview with Autonomy Co-Founder Julian Fairfield (76) on why we should not accept disease, pain and suffering as a normal part of ageing.

Published on

Feb 20, 2024



An interview with Julian Fairfield, Co-Founder of Autonomy, on how he became an accidental entrepreneur at 76 years old, and why he no longer accepts disease, pain, and suffering as a normal part of ageing.


Autonomy Co-Founder Julian Fairfield (76) is a bit of an aberration when it comes to startups. In a sector dominated by tech youngsters fresh out of tertiary education, Julian is a remarkable exception because, three years ago, he embarked on a ground-breaking venture to offer precision healthcare to New Zealanders aged from 60 up.

Julian’s Autonomy journey has an interesting back story, because the company was not born out of a lifelong ambition of his to enter the healthcare industry. After a successful career as a management consultant advising luminaries such as former Lion Nathan chief executive Sir Douglas Myers and the Fred Hollows Foundation, Julian suddenly found himself battling atrial fibrillation and conditions that increased his risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's dementia.

“This was a wake-up call,” Julian says. “Rather than accepting the conditions as the normal course of ageing, I instead delved into extensive research on the underlying causes of age-related conditions. My research showed that 70% of diseases we experience in our later years can be attributed to changeable lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, sleep and mind state.”

Julian then tried unsuccessfully to find anyone offering a service that combined the medical treatments, habit coaching and health monitoring specifically tailored to the needs of older adults to help them reverse or slow these conditions. “So I used my retirement savings to assemble a precision healthcare team that could,” he says.

“Autonomy started as a personal project for addressing my own health, but has now become a mission to provide people like me with access to a service tailored to their specific health needs.”

Autonomy focuses on diseases common in older adults which can be mitigated or even prevented with personal doctor care and daily health habit changes and coaching. “I am fully aware of my mortality, but now feel so positive, confident and in control of my health,” Julian says. “I spend my days talking to older Autonomy clients about how to address their unique conditions so they feel the same way.”

Julian’s story is a powerful reminder that it's never too late to change the course of your life and that if you act for, rather than hope for, a healthy later life, you should have confidence in ageing with dignity, health and independence.


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