Annie Enriquez was devastated when the pandemic shut down her adult day care program last year.
The 75-year-old, who's had trouble communicating ever since suffering a stroke two decades ago, was miserably stuck at home with her daughter, son-in-law and their four teenagers.
Convinced that her daughter was holding her captive, Enriquez left home early one Sunday while the rest of the family was still asleep.
Police and family members combed their Santa Clara neighborhood for hours in search of Enriquez. Around dinnertime, she was found 8 miles away, sitting on a bench outside the closed doors of her adult day care program — the Avenidas Rose Kleiner Center in Mountain View.
"How she got there, nobody knows," Enriquez's daughter, Sonda Angulo, said.
The day care center has since reopened, and Enriquez, along with a growing number of other participants, is back five days a week. Along with 70 other adults with cognitive and physical challenges, she spends her days safely socializing, exercising and engaging in structured activities. She particularly loves singing and dancing the hula.
Kristina Lugo, vice president for programs at Avenidas, said that after Rose Kleiner Center switched its in-person programs to Zoom last year, the center's enrollment saw a significant dip. Many clients who were unable to participate in the program via Zoom, were forced to leave the program, she said.
"About 70% of our participants have some typic of cognitive impairment, and about 50% of those really did not understand," Lugo said. "The services didn't translate. They couldn't focus on a computer for Zoom and couldn't do a phone call or activity packet."
Since reopening in July, enrollment has been steadily rebuilding to prepandemic levels, Lugo said.
Rose Kleiner Center serves people with dementia and other medical conditions that make them unable to operate independently, Lugo said. A few participants are younger — in their 30s and 40s — with traumatic brain injuries. Others are dealing with the effects of stroke or Parkinson's Disease.
Each is served with a "care plan" according to his or her needs, according to Lugo and Nancy Keegan, who directs the center. Services include daily transportation to and from the center, a morning snack with coffee, tea or hot chocolate, hot lunch, as well as an array of activities, including exercise, brain games, painting, music and puzzles. Instructors from Foothill College come four days a week to offer classes such as art history and current events. Nursing, physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy are also available according to each client's needs.
"We follow a similar structure each day," Keegan said.
Some families pay privately for the program at rates ranging from $80 to $150 a day, while other clients are covered by Medi-Cal, Avenidas Vice President John Sink said. The actual cost to provide the service is about $100 per client, per day.
The day care center is named for the late Rose Kleiner, a social worker who was deeply committed to preserving the dignity of seniors with dementia as well as others needing care. Kleiner, who was married to Silicon Valley venture capitalist Eugene Kleiner, worked as program director for the adult day program in the late 1970s. Later, she pioneered the field of care management for older adults.
She continued supporting the day care program even after she left, sending cakes from Prolific Oven each month for the group birthday celebrations until her death in 2001, said Sink, who worked with her in the early 1980s.
Later, a $2 million gift from Kleiner's family kicked off a $5 million fundraising campaign to build the current facility, which opened adjacent to the Mountain View Senior Center in 2005.
Lugo said many caregivers come to the center when they're at their wit's end, unaware that adult day care was even available.
For Angulo, the day program has been "a really big lifesaver."
"I'd been taking care of my mom and raising four kids, and it was really hard," she said.
For more information about the Rose Kleiner Center, go to avenidas.org.