It may not be apparent at first, but people with dementia often forget to drink water. As result, many dementia sufferers become dehydrated but it is overlooked because the symptoms of dehydration are often mistaken for symptoms of their mental condition.
When Lewis Hornby noticed his grandmother was not drinking enough water he looked around for a solution. He ended up inventing “treats” he calls Jelly Drops – brightly colored “candy-like” balls of liquid that are easy to swallow and hydrating.
“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. “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.”
To make the Jelly Drops as effective as possible Horby consulted with psychologists and spent time at a dementia care home to develop the product. The treats are made with gelling agents, electrolytes and 90% water. They look like candies, which is also engaging for dementia patients.
When Hornby introduced them to his grandmother she snatched them up.
“When first offered, grandma ate 7 Jelly Drops in 10 minutes, the equivalent to a cup full of water, something that would usually take hours and require much more assistance,” Hornby writes.
Jelly Drops have won multiple design awards and are now being tried out in several care homes in the United Kingdom. Hornby hopes Jelly Drops will go into production once a bit more research is done.
Update: Horby did indeed get Jelly Drops into production and they can now be purchased online, but only within the United Kingdom (for now).