Mie: Fake Bus Stop Helps Dementia Patients Although No Bus Stops

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Hideto Nakamura, left, talks with elderly people at a “no-bus stop” in Meiwa, Mie Prefecture, in April.

MEIWA, Mie — The town of Meiwa, Mie Prefecture, recently got a new bus stop, complete with sign and bench. But no bus has ever stopped there, and none ever will.

The “stop” was installed by Hideto Nakamura, who manages a nursing care office in the town, to prevent dementia patients from wandering off and getting lost.

The aim is to watch over such elderly people, namely, “If you see someone sitting on the bench, speak to them.” Initiatives like this started in Europe and are beginning to attract attention in Japan as well.

A glance at the timetable makes it obvious that this is not a real bus stop: it states that “lunch” arrives at 12 p.m. and a “snack” at 3 p.m. It also includes the phrase, “Please have a seat and stay as long as you like.”

There are many cases of dementia patients boarding buses out of long-standing habit and going far away. Some people think that they have to go to work or that they want to visit their families at home, having forgotten that they already live with their families. It is also said that many of them, after departing, forget where they wanted to go or what they wanted to do.

The “no-bus stop” is expected to give people a chance to sit on the bench and relax. Nakamura said he hopes that, although no bus will ever come to this stop, such “gentle lies” will become more widespread to help dementia patients.