Thursday, June 05, 2008

Waiting for the bus

Leave it to a nursing home in Germany to come up with a novel way to help take care of their patients. This nursing home was having difficulties with some of their residents stricken with Alzheimer's disease, and decided that they didn't want to have to resort to calling the police every time that someone went missing. So they did the only logical thing, and found a way to keep the patients from going anywhere.

And no, they didn't build a wall. Instead, they built a phantom bus stop. Unlike more paranormal bus stops (see Ghost World for reference), these stops were equipped exactly as a normal stop would be, except for one key detail. That detail, of course, being a distinct lack of buses.

Leave it to Germans to even come up with this idea. Tired of chasing after the elderly that can't remember much because their brains are being plagued by a disease without a cure? Take advantage of that lack of memory. The residents, who still retain some vestiges of long-term memory, associate the bus stop with going home, and then, by the time that they are found, they've forgotten that they ever saw the bright light of day, and smelled the aroma of a little something the rest of us call freedom.

On one hand, it seems fairly dastardly to use their illness against them. On the other hand, it's not as if they were all alcoholics, and they were being lured back with the promise of an all-you-can-drink happy hour. This method is really providing them with a safe memory, and allows the staff to more easily find the residents that need their care.

Of course, we have to wonder if this idea would even have a chance of gaining footing here. While we do try to take care of our sick and our elderly, installing unused stops could just prove to be an annoyance to tax payers helping fund the care. Especially when there are already plenty of unused bus stops, much to the chagrin of potential riders.

After all, when a bus has to go, it has to go, and it's not going to let any man-placed stop dictate its course.

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