Medical alarm a “security blanket” for Taupō local

St John Medical Alarms support independent living and offer families peace of mind. For Taupō local Loretta McPike, her medical alarm is a “security blanket.”

When eighty-one-year-old Italian pocket rocket Loretta McPike’s son Jeremy asked her if she would like him to build a granny flat so she could move to Auckland to live with him, she used some typically colourful Italian language.

The crux of it was a resounding “no thank you!” Known as Loretta McPike, Loretta’s official name is Maria Laura Di Maio. (Long story!)

Loretta is fiercely independent and is thriving living by herself in Taupō. “I have always been the first one up in the morning and the last one to go to bed at night and I have my security blanket that helps me get on with things. I like doing, like reading, colouring, gardening and walking,” she says.

Her “security blanket” is her St John Alarm which she got a few years back to “stop the kids from bugging her” but she acknowledges now that is allowing her to continue living independently.

She says she was initially cautious about getting an alarm because she didn’t want to admit she needed help, “You don’t, when you are fit and healthy, but age catches up with us all,” she says.

Late last year she woke up thinking she was having a heart attack and so she pushed her St John Alarm button and an ambulance soon arrived.

“They came, and my blood pressure was really high, so they took me to hospital, but it turned out to be a panic attack because I couldn’t breathe, it was just a digestion problem.”

“I have had a few more late-night episodes but was able to call St John and they reassured me – knowing they are there if I need them is a big help,” she says. “Although I did it for my children to reassure them initially, I find it reassures me. I can push the button and they [St John] will come running!”

Now she no longer panics at night and has cut out certain foods – she mainly follows her Italian diet and treasures garlic and olive oil for her mainly good health. She makes the best ravioli from scratch!

Loretta says that without her St John Alarm she probably would have moved closer to her children years ago, but she loves her independence and her life in Taupō.

Loretta and her family’s story is typical of the “the sandwich generation”; navigating ageing parents from another town. Loretta has a son, Julian, in Otago, Jeremy lives in Auckland and a daughter Joann, overseas.

Loretta has always been independent. She came to New Zealand in 1962, but sadly her husband died 40 years ago and to make ends meet she turned her home into a guest house, sleeping her three boys in a caravan out the back and finding a bed wherever she could, sometimes the couch. At times, she thinks she would like to do have guests again, “but I can hear the kids screaming, no,” she jokes.

She also likes helping friends and recently spent several months in Australia supporting a terminally ill friend.

Loretta’s son Jeremy is also grateful for support the St John Alarm offers.

“She has diabetes and high blood pressure, so we didn’t want to take any risks,” he says. “But we know she likes being on her own and doing her own thing in her own time.”

Loretta catches up with her children and five grandchildren by phone and regular facetime catch ups.

To arrange a free trial for up to 14 days and an in-home demonstration visit stjohnalarms.nz/stayindependent or call 0800 50 23 23.

About Mason Head

Content Creator and Publication Lead at Eldernet

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