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Mie: False bus stop helps dementia patients, even though there are no bus stops

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Hideto Nakamura, left, talks to elderly people at a ‘bus stop’ in Meiwa, Mie Prefecture, in April.

MEIWA, Mie — The city of Meiwa, Mie Prefecture, recently received a new bus stop, complete with sign and bench. But no bus has ever stopped there, and never will.

The “stop” was installed by Hideto Nakamura, who runs a nursing home in the city, to prevent dementia patients from wandering off and getting lost.

The purpose is to watch over such elderly people, namely: “If you see someone sitting on the couch, speak to them.” Initiatives like these started in Europe and are starting to gain attention in Japan as well.

A look at the timetable makes it clear that this is not a real bus stop: it says that “lunch” arrives at noon and a “snack” at 3 p.m. As you wish.”

There are many cases of dementia patients who, out of a long-term habit, get on the bus and go far away. Some people think they have to go to work or visit their family back home because they have forgotten that they already live with their family. It is also said that many of them forget where they wanted to go or what they wanted to do after they leave.

The expectation is that the ‘no bus stop’ will give people the chance to sit on the couch and relax. Nakamura said he hopes that even though a bus will never come to this stop, such “soft lies” will become more widespread to help dementia patients.

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