London-based student, Lewis Hornby, has come up with a genius idea, in the shape of mouth-watering treats, to keep his dementia-afflicted grandmother hydrated.
When his grandmother, Pat, was unexpectedly rushed to the hospital because of severe dehydration, 24-year old Lewis was determined to find a way to keep the elderly woman hydrated. He used sensory deprivation tools and VR tools, consulted with a dementia psychologist and doctors, even spent a few days in a dementia care home. He tested his prototypes multiple times before finalizing his project Jelly Drops—bite-sized edible water pods that look just like tasty candies, and are much easier to swallow than water, but just as hydrating.
According to The Alzheimer’s Site, dehydration is extremely common for people who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Some might forget to drink water, forget where the water is, or even forget that they were thirsty in the first place. Others might be unable to swallow thin liquids or might have forgotten how to swallow altogether.
Hornby's brightly-colored drops are 90% water, and also include gelling agents and electrolytes – usually found in sports drinks – to aid in hydration. They are extremely easy for dementia patients to handle and eat. They don't require any utensils and don't leave any residue on the hands. They even come in dementia-friendly packaging, with the clear plastic box allowing patients to see the goodies inside without lifting the lid, making the Jelly Drops easier to find if misplaced and easier to remember to eat. The packaging doesn’t even remotely look like a medical device, but more like an inviting box of candies.
“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.”
The grandson of the year’s invention has already won a number of awards, including the Helen Hamlyn Design Award, Snowdon Award for Disability, and the Dyson School of Design Engineering DESIRE Award for Social Impact. Now, Jelly Drops are being tested in UK nursing homes, and will most likely hit the markets soon.
Just like it is helping Pat, we hope that this delicacy will help current and future dementia patients get the hydration they need to stay comfortable and healthy–all while enjoying this succulent treat!