Return Home

A Bus to Nowhere

Back to Episode

There’s a common problem faced by Alzheimer's and Dementia patients all over the world: lost in their memories, they sometimes get disoriented, and wander off. When this happens, they can end up far from home and frightened, or even hurt. So what are you supposed to do if your loved one--a parent, a grandparent--begins to wander in this way? Often times the only solution is to lock them up. Which just feels cruel. But what else are you supposed to do if you want to keep them safe? Lulu Miller asks Richard Neureither and Regine Hauch to explain the novel solution used at Benrath Senior Center in Düsseldorf, Germany.


Lulu Miller

Comments [12]


A certain percentage of us will end up here. Thank you!

Mar. 17 2018 02:07 PM
Marcus Kobrin from California

Host Jad thought the idea of a fake bus stop down the the street from a senior center was a 'cruel idea'. Well...Jad, can you please offer your own alternative to the 'cruel' bus stop. I think you're thinking about it with your non-dementia mind. You should be thinking about a fake bus stop with a person with dementia in mind, NOT your non-dementia mind. Thank you.

Mar. 14 2018 04:15 PM
Stan Roelker from Chicago, Illinois

I loved this report. A loving and caring way to treat a human being who have lost parts of their memories. Very touching. We have a facility like this in the village I worked at and the police would sometimes find a patient walking the streets. They would be brought back before any harm occurred to them.
If I recall the story, was it a patient who recommended the "bus stop" solution? Very perceptive of the individual.
Please, more of these stories of how human beings should treat other human beings.

Feb. 09 2017 07:32 PM
MaryH from St. Paul, Minnesota

I loved the bus stop solution. That would have been a calming option for my dad who had Alzheimer's. He was in an assisted living facility and for awhile was obsessed with going home, not to the home he'd left recently, but to his childhood home in Winona, Minnesota. He talked about needing to and trying to catch a ride home. One day I spotted a homemade sign he presumably made for hitchhiking with the word Winona on it in big black letters. I had to laugh to myself about that one. The bus stop idea would have been great, and I could have seen myself spending hours there waiting with him for the bus and just chatting. I can totally see how it would have calmed him down and after awhile he'd be content to return to his apartment, either because we must have missed the bus or because he'd have forgotten why we were sitting there. Telling a lie in that situation is totally valid - it's for the greater good of giving someone a sense of peace, even if it's temporary. More memory care facilities should have an option like that. Brilliant. I also loved hearing how they let the baker work his regular hours. It's all about treating someone with dignity and helping to give them a sense of calm and peace, that is often elusive with Alzheimer's disease.

Feb. 13 2016 04:46 PM
nancy from sacaramento, ca

What a beautiful example of "putting yourself in someone else's shoes". This story will be forever saved in my favorites.

Aug. 20 2014 03:40 PM
Ruth Ruback

want to share a recent segment and realize I have wanted to on many prior occasions.

Apr. 06 2014 11:44 PM


Apr. 06 2014 01:09 PM
Sharone Hardesty from Boston, MA

A heart warming solution to a heart wrenching problem globally.

Apr. 05 2014 04:26 PM
John Warshawsky from Washington, D.C.

This is my all-time favorite episode on Radiolab! I listen to it, over and over!

Oct. 28 2013 06:16 PM
ellen h braun

this story about bubble wrap at the bus stop:

Dec. 09 2012 08:05 PM
Jennifer Swystun from Sooke BC

I think this is wonderful!
When I feel confused, sad, or caught up it the reality of work etc., I go to nature or meditate.
I believe that's what it's like for these people.

Feb. 05 2012 03:40 PM

I hope one day you do an entire program on Psychodrama. The episode of building the bus stop to nowhere sounded like something Jacob Levy Moreno might have done in the 1930s. It was used a great deal at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, DC during the late 1960s through the 1980s. I am a certified psychodramatist. That's why I'm interested. One of the most famous people who have used psychodrama in their road to recovery is Tina Fey. She wrote about it in either Time or The New Yorker. Dramatherapy - which sometimes uses aspects of psychodrama - has become very popular now with groups like City at Peace. So, anyway, I loved this episode and would like to see what you do exploring the roots of something like psychodrama.

May. 01 2011 07:15 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.