Oom Hansie – A Cry for Help

Elderly Man in Hat - Black and White

Alzheimer’s Dementia Namibia consists of a very small community. We work hard to make people aware of Alzheimer’s & Dementia in Namibia, but we remain a minority. As it is, we strive to help our residents. Most families that bring their afflicted to us, have little or no understanding of the intense needs of a resident with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. They also do not understand the costs of housing an elderly with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. And so it is that we received a notice that one of our residents are to be taken to a new care facility (a place where the staff are not trained to be care takers to Alzheimer’s or Dementia patients.) We are at a loss here as you will see below and we desperately need the help of donations. Please send this far and wide – maybe someone somewhere will open his heart to the incredible sad story of Mr Hansie van Rooyen.

Letter from ADN’s Berrie Holtzhausen to a member of the Van Rooyen Family.

Good morning S,

I am truly sorry to hear that you want to take Oom (uncle) Hansie away from his dementia family. Not only for him, but also for his new family here. I understand that you can only pay N$4500/month and that his sponsers have withdrawn and that the family is fine with moving him… but…

But because of Oom Hansie I will see if I can find new sponsers. If not, I understand that you will come to take him away at the end of July.

Regarding his payments, I just want to clarify the following; our monthly fees remain N$ 9,662.00 For the last six months ADN has paid for his basic medical needs which comes to N$1102/month – that is N$6616 for the last six months. We have also paid for his personal toiletries for more than 3 years as none of his family has been assisting in this area or thought that he needed toiletries. The deposit, as you will understand, has long since been used.

Why has the responsible party who signed oom Hansie’s contract not contacted me? Why has nobody informed me of the situation? Oom Hansie is a human being. I can only pray that the same will not happen to him at the new facility that happened to him when he landed with us. It took him months to get over the fact that he was simply dropped like a bag of potatoes on our front porch. He kept on saying that the Pastor and his wife simply dropped him, never to return. And he could not understand it. (Who does?)

Oom Hansie is deaf and therefor struggles to make conversation and it is difficult to understand him. This makes him a very lonely person among strangers. But here, here among his dementia family he sings and he laughs. This is his family. His people. His home. Hy never stays in his room, he is always in the living room where he can communicate in the intricate way he does. Where he sings ‘Ou Ryperd’ like only he does and where he talks about his red tractor.

I wish we can keep him here. But you have given us such short notice! I wish those responsible would have contacted me earlier!

We ADN, work with cash. Because we are a TRUST, no institution wants to provide us with a loan or credit facilities. For the last six months we have poured thousands into the new care facility. This month, specifically, is financially very difficult as we have keep on providing our residents with food etc. Our CEO, Linda, does her best to make ends meet and still manages to provide treats or our residents. I lay awake at night trying to figure things out. And sometimes I have to block my own thoughts just so that I can forget about Oom Hansie and his bag of potatoes, that he has been visited once and then never again. That he was rejected by his family because he is just a road worker and dropped his medical aid in his hour of need and was therefore seen as neglecting his wife. But he still is a human…

For us he is Hansie that can sing and laugh a toothless laugh. Hansie that still believes he has a red tractor and sheep. Hansie that can sing ‘Ou Ryperd’ like nobody else. Hansie that struggles to walk but still manages to go to the bathroom on his own.

I hope you understand that I am writing this letter with tears. I apologise, but I had to write. I have little or no time. I am leaving for South Africa in the morning to say goodbye to a friend. When I return, I have to head up to the Cunene to go visit our dementia family there. And when I get back here, I have to tell Oom Hansie that he is yet again to move. That he is to move to a house that is not his home.

Maybe you can send my plea onto his sponsors to reconsider. Maybe you can send it to his old church. Maybe I will think of a plan as I drive a thousand kilometres towards a friend. I don’t know… I’m at a loss of words.

All I know is that Oom Hansie can be moved. He cannot be taken away from his family that understands him and appreciates him. Not at this stage of his life. It is here that he must sing ‘Ou Ryperd’ until his very last breath and dream about his red tractor and his sheep. Here…

I hope you understand what I am trying to say.



Email:    berrie.holtzhausen@gmail.com
Email:    alzheimernam@gmail.com
Phone:  (00264) 064-461388/221114
Mobile: (00264) 081 2833983

Picture courtesy of Reporting on Health

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