Fake Bus Stops Used to Retrieve Alzheimer’s Patients

by Jerrold Bartholomew

How lax is security at Alzheimer’s facilities in Germany? This story apparently answers that question and explains that fake bus stops are used to gather in patients who wander away:

“It sounds funny but it helps,” said Franz-Josef Goebel, the chairman of the “Old Lions” association.

The result is that errant patients now wait for their trip home at the [fake] bus stop, before quickly forgetting why they were there in the first place.

“Our members are 84 years old on average. Their short-term memory hardly works, but the long-term memory is still active.

“They know the green and yellow bus sign and remember that waiting there means they will go home.”

I have never seen a facility in Michigan that would allow patients out the door, never mind rely on a fake bus stop to retrieve the patients. I wonder, however, whether this story has been reported with complete accuracy or if something has been lost in translation. I cannot believe that an Alzheimer’s ward would allow patients to wander off unobserved. It makes more sense that the fake bus stops are used as a form of therapy: if the patients feel that they must try to return home, the bus stop can allow them to scratch that itch. And going out to the bus stop will give the patient some exercise. But I would be interested to hear the thoughts of others with some expertise in the care of Alzheimer’s patients. Can this story be accurate as reported?

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