People who scrambled to find a place where their children could be cared for during the day back in the 1970s often are facing a similar dilemma today.

People who scrambled to find a place where their children could be cared for during the day back in the 1970s often are facing a similar dilemma today.

Only this time, those adults are trying to find a place for their elderly parents to stay during the workday.

One local nonprofit organization has been providing adult day care for just over a quarter of a century.

"That's all we've ever done," said Erica Drewry, executive director of Heritage Day Health Centers, which currently operates out of four locations, including a former Frank's Nursery at 1700 E. Dublin-Granville Road.

Heritage Day opened its first center on the east side of Columbus in April 1984. Now, in addition to the original and Northland locations, there are centers on East Broad Street and in Delaware.

Heritage Day provides care for about 450 older people each week at these locations, some for only two days a week but others for seven days a week, Drewry said.

About 60 percent of the people who come to Heritage Day have some form of dementia and cannot be left home alone while their caregivers are at work, she said. In other cases, the centers provide a break for caregivers to get chores accomplished.

The centers accept people who have very mild forms of dementia up to those not very aware of their surroundings, Drewry said. Those who are too sick to get around on their own are not eligible.

The programs at the centers, including a special one at the Northland location for people who have suffered brain injuries or have mild forms of mental illness, are geared toward providing "cognitive stimulation" as a means of delaying the progress of dementia, Drewry said.

Most clients have third-party sources to pay for their time at Heritage Day, whether it's private insurance, Medicare, Passport or the levy-funded Franklin County Senior Options program, Drewry said. Some do pay their own way.

Most clients are picked up at their homes and delivered to the sites by a fleet of vans, which is one way the family members of potential new clients learn about Heritage Day Health Centers, Drewry said.

"We'll get a lot of calls: 'I don't know what I need, but I need something,' " she added.

The East Dublin-Granville location, in addition to covered outdoor space that the former nursery operation left behind, has three rooms for programming, depending upon the abilities of the clients.

One of those for people with only minor forgetfulness is involved in day trips to various locations and even civic volunteer projects, Drewry said.

"We do play bingo," she admitted, "because it is in high demand."

Outsiders might think working with people who have dementia might be the grimmest kind of work there can be, but Drewry said that's far from the case.

"I always tell people it's the best place to spend time, whether you're a client or someone in my role," she said.

Watching people of the same generation and with similar backgrounds and experiences interact is often a pleasure, as is listening to stories from way back when, she said. Seeing people who are initially shy blossom to make friends also is gratifying.

"There's an extraordinary amount of history that these walls contain," Drewry said.

"Just to see the clients enjoying themselves is a wonderful thing," said Scott Everhart, site manager for the East Dublin-Granville Road Heritage Day Health Center. "You get to have their stories."

All four locations encourage intergenerational programs, Drewry said. These include bringing in preschoolers and even infants, the presence of which often stimulate fond memories among clients. Teen volunteers also come in, sometimes for extended periods. Drewry said some, as a result of families moving away from previous generations, have had little experience with senior citizens.

"They stop seeing the folks as old and they see them as who they are," Drewry said.