One of the hallmark symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is that people often feel the need to “just go home” when they are disoriented, and become escape artists.
As a result, individuals try to leave their residences, and wander away.
To protect its patients, a nursing home in Dusseldorf, Germany came up with this unique solution: Staff at the Benrath Senior Center had a bus stop built – a fake one, that is.
Instead of dissuading patients from heading to the public transportation exit on the premises – like they often do when the yearning for home is most persistent – patients can walk right up to the stop in front of the clinic.
Once they’ve settled there and wait for their ride (which, of course, won’t arrive), staff at the senior center have the opportunity to engage in conversation and soothe them back inside. “
We will approach them and say that the bus is coming later and invite them in for a coffee,” said Richard Neureither, Benrath’s director.
As time passes, the patient’s urgency to return home dissipates. “Five minutes later they have completely forgotten they wanted to leave.”
The idea is being rolled out at half a dozen centers around Germany (such as Munich and Hamburg) and Europe.