Day Care Kids Form Special Bond With 91-Year-Old Man With Dementia

Day Care Kids Form Special Bond With 91-Year-Old Man With Dementia

September 7, 2021 by Cathy Stack

Vidalia, Louisiana – At 91 years old and with a dementia diagnosis, Gene McGehee was finding his golden years to be his loneliest. That all changed one day when he heard the unmistakable sound of children’s laughter right outside his home.

When Gene stepped outside, he couldn’t believe his good fortune to discover a group of lively young kids playing. The children, from the day care center across the street, were more than willing to include Gene in their fun. They nicknamed him Mr. Gene, and a special, long-lasting friendship was born between Gene, the kids and Megan Nunez, the kind-hearted daycare teacher. 

Gene’s severe dementia means he now has only short-term memory. For the last three years, Gene has been meeting Megan and the kids every day for what he thinks is the very first time.   

“Every day, I cross the street, and we meet again,” explained Megan. “We always tell the kids that his brain is kind of sick, but his heart remembers us.”

Gene’s daughter, Cathy, said he suffered from loneliness until the kids came barreling into his life and brightened his days. When she shows her father pictures of himself, he does not recognize the image before him. He sees a stranger. But she says that her father’s old spark of life returns when he interacts with the children. He now gets to just step outside and make new friends on a daily basis.

“They have been such a blessing to Daddy, and he lights up,” Cathy cheerfully shared. 

Gene and the kids bask in their one-hour “playdate” every afternoon. They exchange jokes, stories, laughs and hugs. He sometimes even participates in their games.  

Even though the day’s cherished memories are erased as the sun sets, something remains in the recesses of Gene’s mind. It is that special feeling that beckons him back outside as soon as he hears the children’s laughter once again.

“He just goes right to the front yard,” Cathy said. In fact, Gene has developed an astonishing association between the act of going outside with experiencing a joyful moment. Cathy is not surprised by her father’s instinct.  

“Everybody responds to love,” she said with a knowing smile. 

PassItOn and The Foundation For A Better Life believe that Gene McGehee and the kids are heroes for reminding us the value of friendship. These children provide Gene with an opportunity to meaningfully interact in the world. In return, Gene is teaching the young children an important life lesson about inclusion. The special bond of friendship between Gene and the young kids is a great reminder that what the brain may forget, the heart never does. Please help us celebrate Gene and his best friends by sharing their heartwarming story.

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Day Care Kids Form Special Bond With 91-Year-Old Man With Dementia #friendship #passiton Vidalia, Louisiana – At 91...

Posted by Foundation for A Better Life on Tuesday, September 7, 2021

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Your Comments
Maureen T Pelchar OCTOBER 1, 2021
We all need a friend, loved one, or if we're fortunate enough, more friends & loved ones. This touched my heart saw as my husband & I just returned home from a neighbor's. She has severe dementia, little family that care, except for a dear niece, & some very close friends; one of whom is hired to help bring her some groceries a few times a week. Everyone needs a friend; especially someone with dementia. Thanks for this touching heart warming, bittersweet story.

Dorothy Vaughn SEPTEMBER 9, 2021
Very warm hearted story!!!

Lynise Tarring from Hilo, Hawai'i  SEPTEMBER 8, 2021
I treasure and enjoy your stories that are radiant of HOPE. I sincerely thank that teacher and those kids. God Bless you all.

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