People with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia often have a difficult time staying hydrated.
Whether they simply forget to drink enough water, can’t find the water, or even just don’t feel thirsty or enjoy the taste of water anymore, dementia patients can become dehydrated easily — and with devastating effects.
United Kingdom college student Lewis Hornby noticed that his grandmother, who has dementia, was experiencing this common problem. As a budding inventor studying Innovation Design Engineering at the Imperial College London, Lewis saw this problem as an opportunity. He set out to find a creative way to help patients get the water they need in a new, enjoyable way.
“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,” Lewis stated. “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.”
Lewis conferred with several dementia psychologists and spent a week living in a dementia care home in order to come up with “water you can eat.” He calls his product “Jelly Drops,” and they look so much like candy that patients with dementia are attracted to the brightly colored gumdrops. Even patients who have continually turned down food and drink are attracted to these water-filled gelatin treats.
Lewis also thought about product packaging, designing a clear-cased, easy to open box that grants patients a visual reminder to eat the Jelly Drops.
“When first offered, grandma ate 7 Jelly Drops in 10 minutes,” Lewis said, “the equivalent to a cup full of water, something that would usually take hours and require much more assistance.”
Lewis’ Jelly Drop creation has already won multiple design awards, including the Dyson School of Design Engineering DESIRE Award for Social Impact. Many nursing homes and dementia care homes in the U.K. are trying out the product, and Lewis hopes there will be more research and trials soon.
Well done, Lewis! Thank goodness for innovators like you who come up with a tasty solution to a heartbreaking problem.
Check out the video of Lewis’ grandmother trying Jelly Drops for the first time below, and be sure to share this important news!
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