When Pat Klingman brought her husband, Jim, to a church basement in Milwaukee for his first day at the adult day care program, she worried a little as she went to work.
He was 53 years old and recovering from a brain injury. “No” was the only word he spoke. He didn’t really understand why she left him there.
But all went well, and that day in June 1981 was the beginning of a routine the Klingmans would continue for 30 years.
As Jim Klingman became a regular attendee, the more he enjoyed going, his wife said. His outgoing nature returned, and he learned to speak and read again. She credits his recovery to the social and learning aspects of the program’s activities.
“By 2004, he was 90 percent back,” Pat said about her husband of 40 years. “He didn’t go to any other program, so it’s all because of the work that’s done here at the Catholic Charities adult day care.”
“It’s very nice here,” agreed Jim Klingman, who turned 84 this month. “I’ve got two families – at home and here.”
As one of the program’s first attendees, “he is an inspiration to us here,” said Annette Jankowski, director for the center run by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
On June 24, when the Milwaukee Adult Day Care and Resource Center celebrated its 30-year anniversary, Jim Klingman was honored as the organization’s longest-attending program participant. He received a wood sculpture of praying hands made by Gunter Timpe, a volunteer at the center.
“It was a surprise. Jim was very touched; he had tears in his eyes,” Pat said.
Program has expanded
Thirty years ago, Pat Klingman said this was the only adult day care program she could find in Milwaukee.
“It was located in the basement of St. Timothy (Episcopal Church) and there were only four other participants,” she said. “It was run by a couple and then Catholic Charities took it over. Now look how it’s grown, and all the good it has done for Jim and for everyone who comes here.”
In 1997, the adult day services program was moved to its current location, 1919 N. 60th St., Milwaukee. With space for 50 participants, the main gathering area is roomy and bright. The windows overlook a park-like yard behind the building.
Outside, the walking path through the lot’s mature trees and flower gardens, plus the patio area with a grill for cookouts, are favorite spots during warm weather, Jankowski said.
“Keeping social and active is so important as we age,” she noted. “Our motto is ‘use it or lose it!’”
That approach is evident through the variety of games, visits by entertainers and the host of special events, such as Christmas in July, that fill the month’s activities calendar. The adult day services are available Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on holidays. The center offers daily programming, recreational activities, certified nursing assistant care, snacks and lunch, and serves people of all faiths. Podiatrists, beauticians and on-site bathing facilities are available for additional fees.
Jankowski said their services are flexible to meet the needs of the family and the individual.
In addition to the Milwaukee location, Catholic Charities runs an adult day service center at 13700 W. National Ave., New Berlin.
Variety of activities
The morning begins with a social hour and group exercise. Different activities to keep the mind alert are planned each day, including group discussions and memory games.
Jim said some of his favorite activities are the pet visits, karaoke and singing.
“He is our best singer,” Jankowski said.
He also enjoys playing bingo and reading the sports section in the newspaper, especially when it’s about the Green Bay Packers, she added. Before lunch, Jim often leads the group prayer.
“Spirituality is important here,” Jankowski said, and activities include saying prayers, reading Bible stories and singing hymns. Also, Fr. Jerry Hudziak comes to celebrate Mass once a month.
Pat is grateful for the care her husband has received the past three decades.
“It brings peace of mind. The staff is so caring, I don’t worry about my husband. And it’s good to keep his mind and body active,” she said.
In 1981, she was looking for a place to care for Jim while she worked, and she heard about the program through the Milwaukee Veterans Administration.
Pat said her husband made steady progress throughout the first two decades. Then in 2004, Jim had several surgeries which set back his progress, she said, “but he still loves to talk. He loves being with people and he looks forward to seeing everyone here.”
He has retained memories from his past, she said. He enjoys telling stories, especially about his service in the Navy during World War II.
“I was a Jack of all trades,” Jim added.
He had owned a night club, ran a vending business, and later worked at Harley-Davidson Motor Company and for the Milwaukee school district, Pat explained.
Growing up in Milwaukee, Jim attended Catholic and Lutheran schools because his mother was Catholic and his father was Lutheran, she said.
The Klingmans are members of Gloria Dei-Bethesda Evangelical Lutheran Church in Milwaukee. “We go there every week,” Pat said. “I believe God never gives you more than you can handle, so God must think we are very strong people.”
Pat retired in 1992. Now, while Jim attends the program, she often runs errands, does household chores or visits with friends.
“After I pick Jim up, we make dinner, watch TV and talk about his day,” she said.
According to Jim, “You couldn’t ask for a better place.”