To Help His Grandma Stay Hydrated, Man Creates 'Jelly Drops' That Look Like Candy And Appeal To People With Dementia

August 23, 2018

Lewis Hornby noticed that his grandmother, who suffers from dementia, was not drinking enough water and decided to invent something that would make it easier for her to get the fluids she needed.

Hornby calls them Jelly Drops. These brightly colored bite-sized balls of liquid are easier to swallow than water and just as hydrating.

jelly drops dementia
Credit: Lewis Hornby

Hornby says he spoke with dementia psychologists, spent a week living in a dementia care home, consulted with doctors about how to create a hydrating product, and returned to the care home several times to test the prototypes of his project -- all in an effort to do something to help.

"For people with dementia the symptoms of dehydration are often mistakenly attributed to their underlying condition, meaning it can easily go unnoticed until it becomes life-threatening," Hornby writes on his website. "About a year ago my grandma was unexpectedly rushed to hospital, she was found to be severely dehydrated. Thankfully, after 24 hours on IV fluids she was back to her normal happy self, and is still enjoying a good quality of life to this day."

Jelly Drops are super-hydrating treats, that people with dementia find engaging and easy to eat. The drops are made of 90 percent water with gelling agents and electrolytes to aid in hydration. The packaging doesn't look like a medical device of any sort, so it's not threatening; instead, it looks like a box of candy.

"From my observations, people with dementia find eating much easier than drinking," says Hornby. "Even still, it can be difficult to engage and encourage them to eat. I found the best way to overcome this is to offer them a treat!"

Hornby's invention worked better than expected when he introduced them to his grandmother.

"When first offered, grandma ate 7 Jelly Drops in 10 minutes," says Hornby, "the equivalent to a cup full of water, something that would usually take hours and require much more assistance."

Jelly Drops have won the Helen Hamlyn Design Award, Snowdon Award for Disability, and the Dyson School of Design Engineering DESIRE Award for Social Impact. They are being trialed in other care homes in the UK, and Hornby hopes to do more research and begin production of his drops soon.

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