Having a family member with a degenerative brain disease such as Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia is one of the hardest things to deal with in life. Dementia affects people in many different ways. However, most people don’t realize one of the complications of the disease is chronic dehydration.
There are many reasons why people with dementia have problems staying hydrated. It may be because they don’t drink enough water and don’t think about it due to being forgetful. It may be because they dislike the taste of water or they don’t feel thirsty therefore don’t recognize the need for it. Sadly, many dementia patients can become dehydrated very quickly, which can lead to dire health problems.
Louis Hornby is a college student in the UK, and he noticed that his grandmother was experiencing trouble staying hydrated. She has dementia, and he made up his mind that he was going to do something about it.
As an inventer studying innovation of Design Engineering at the Imperial College London, he said that he didn’t look at it as a problem but rather an opportunity to help his grandmother and others like her get the water they needed enjoyably.
“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 the James Dyson Award 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.”Advertisement
So Hornby invented Jelly Drops, brightly colored bite-sized balls of liquid that are much easier to swallow than water but just as hydrating. The drops comprise of 90 percent water with gelling agents and electrolytes to assist in hydration.
Best of all the drops don’t require any utensils, are firm and easy to grasp, and they don’t leave any residue on the hands. Plus, the packaging doesn’t look like any intimidating medical device. Instead, they come in something the resembles a box of inviting candies!
Hornby says that he found that people with dementia seem to recognize the colorful Jelly Drops immediately as a treat and are eager to eat them even if they would frequently turn down other kinds of food and drink.
“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.”
Hornby’s Jelly Drops have won the Snow
den Award for Disability, the Helen Hamlyn Design Award, and the Dyson School of Design Engineering DESIRE Award for Social Impact. Right now care homes across the UK are trying them out.
Hopefully, this can help millions of people.
Check out this video of Hornby and his grandmother, who’s enjoying her grandson’s Jelly Drops.
Jelly Drops from Lewis Hornby on Vimeo.
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