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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Man with Dementia Befriends Day Care Kids Who Visit Him Every Day

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Gene McGehee is a 91-year-old who lives in Vidalia, Louisiana. Gene has dementia, and it’s gotten to the point where he doesn’t remember people and has forgotten a lot of what he used to know.

But he hasn’t forgotten that the sound of children laughing is joyful, or that following that sound leads to joyous times.

Across the street from Gene, Megan Nunez and Heather Bass run an in-home day care. Every day, the kids spend time outside.

And every day — for the last three years — when they go outside, Gene goes outside, too.



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“He just goes right to the front yard,” his daughter Cathy told CBS News.

“And he remembers that this is going to be a joyful thing if he goes outside?” reporter Steve Hartman asked.

“Exactly,” she said. “Because it’s love. And, you know, everybody responds to love.”

Cathy also said Gene had been getting increasingly lonely, but seeing the kids every day lifts his spirits.

“Oh my goodness, they have been such a blessing to daddy,” she said. “And he lights up.”

Because of the dementia, Gene doesn’t remember the kids individually, and each day he asks Megan what her name is. She’s had to explain the phenomenon to the kids, but she’s taken a gentle approach they seem to understand.

“We always tell the kids that his brain is kind of sick, but his heart always remembers us,” she explained.

On Facebook, Nunez wrote about the news crew coming to film them and capture their heartwarming story.



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“All it takes is two crazy besties to put Vidalia on the map,” she posted on Jan. 12. “Haha jk. All jokes aside the last 24 hours were a whirlwind.

“Heather Bass and me are bests friends that both have our own in home daycare. Some of you may know our story already. We have become close friends with our neighbor Mr Gene. Mr Gene has dementia and we have the pleasure of getting to meet him again every day with our daycare kids.”

The repetition seems to have bred familiarity and kindness rather than contempt, and all involved enjoy the interaction.

“Every day I cross the street and we meet again,” Megan told CBS News.

And tomorrow, they’ll do it all over again.

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