Online celebrity, Hendrika ‘Oma’ van Genderen, sadly passed away on 17-Feb-2022 after years of living with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
Hendrika, a Dutch matriarch and former NSW Central Coast resident, lives on in our hearts through the Facebook clips produced by her film-maker son, Jason, and now through the feature length documentary film, “Everybody’s Oma: a family’s dementia journey”, having its world premiere on 11 June at the 2022 Sydney Film Festival.
From little things big things grow
It was by accident that Oma (Dutch for grandma) found herself attracting 100 million views around the world through unassuming home videos made during the pandemic.
You may remember my blog of May 2020 where I shared the ways in which Jason re-created Oma’s favourite routines at home during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Routine being so critical in settling Oma in her experience of dementia.
From visits to the Sydney Aquarium to shopping at Coles, Jason re-created these ‘outings’ at home. He filmed them and thought to share them through the humbly-named Facebook page, Oma’s Applesauce. Applesauce being one of Oma’s favourite Dutch condiments.
Shopping "at Coles" at home, with Oma.
The audience response was unexpected. As Jason and wife, Megan explain,
“Sometimes a little idea just catches wind and sparks absolute magic”.
In a recent panel interview, organised by the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN), Jason said they were surprised that their story resonated so strongly and, so much so, they felt a responsibility to share the story more widely through a documentary.
Dementia journey message
Their key message is that while every dementia journey is different, the journey of caring for someone with dementia can be one of heart, hope and happiness despite the tough times. The Facebook clips and documentary share how they made it so.
To avoid carer burnout, both Jason and Megan emphasise the importance of communicating to each other as a couple and to family. In their words, a bit of whingeing and venting helps diffuse built up emotions and frustrations.
DR Care Solutions removed the fog of decision-making
The time did come when caring for Oma at home, with the support of in-home carers, became too much. Jason called it their “cloudy moment” where they entered the “foreign land” of residential care.
In the OPAN interview, he speaks of “the laser focus” that I was able to bring to their decision-making to find the right place for Oma.
Using the DR Care Solutions process, I interviewed the family to understand Oma’s wants, wishes and budget. This criteria was then entered into the DR Care Solutions comparative residential aged care facility platform. Five aged care facilities were shortlisted by the platform. We visited all five and found ‘the place’ for Oma.
From the date of the initial interview to the date of moving into the residential facility was seven business days. During this time Jason redecorated Oma’s residential care facility room to make it her home. It was such an emotional time for both Megan and Jason when they realised the major decision they were making for Oma. We discussed strategies on the conversations they needed to have with Oma to ensure she was comfortable with the relocation.
Any journey regrets
An OPAN audience member asked Jason and Megan whether they had any regrets on how they cared for Oma.
Jason said his only regret was being too hard on himself as a care giver:
“I’d remove the carer guilt.”
Megan said her regret was not identifying themselves as care givers earlier:
“And now I am struggling about losing that role as carer”.
Advice from Jason and Megan was freely shared in the OPAN interview and I encourage you to watch it.
The film: Everybody's Oma - a family's dementia journey
Mark it in your diary to come and join us at the world premiere or second screening of “Everyone’s Oma: a family’s dementia journey” at the 2022 Sydney Film Festival:
6.30 pm Saturday 11 June 2022, Event Cinemas George Street Sydney; or
6.00 pm Sunday 12 June 2022, Hayden Orpheum Cremorne.
"Everybody's Oma" Trailer, Sydney Film Festival.
If you are seeking care for a loved one, please don’t hesitate to call me, Danielle Robertson, for an initial discussion on how to set up the right care, support and assistance at the right time and in the right place.
 Sydney Film Festival: "Everybody's Oma"
 DR Care Solutions' blog: "Creative Ways to Maintain Elderly Parents Routine in Covid-19 Isolation
 Facebook: Oma's Applesauce
 OPAN Webinar: Everybody's Oma - a family's dementia journey