An Innovative Product Helps Dementia Patients Stay Hydrated
Lewis Hornby saw his grandmother slowly receding into the throes of dementia. Although it was difficult to watch her health slide, he noticed that she was sometimes struggling to get enough fluids to stay hydrated.
This student decided that he could do something about that situation.
He ended up inventing a new product called “Jelly Drops.”
The item is a bite-sized pod of water that looks like it would be a tasty treat.
Although the Jelly Drops look like they are candy, 90% of the product is water.
The remaining components are electrolytes and gelling agents.
Hornby created them in a variety of colors to entice those who have dementia to enjoy something to drink.
Most People with Dementia Don’t Experience Thirst
People with neurodegenerative diseases like dementia often experience dehydration because their thirst mechanisms no longer function correctly.
Some might not even have the ability needed to pick up a glass of water to drink.
As part of the product development process, Hornby used virtual-reality tools to understand what life is like with this condition.
Then he spent a week living in a care facility so that he could see the challenges that people face.
Once he had some ideas to develop, Hornby sought the advice of doctors and psychologists to see how he could package water in a user-friendly way.
Hornby’s grandmother would become one of the first test subjects for Jelly Drops.
When she was offered the new product, presented in a container that’s similar to chocolates or premium candies, she ate seven of them in only ten minutes.
That’s the equivalent of drinking an entire cup of water – a task that would typically require several hours to complete.
Jelly Drops makes hydration easier to accomplish because people with dementia find it easier to eat something than drink anything.
Offering people a treat creates excitement because it’s instantly recognizable.
Although the product remains in a trial phase, Hornby has already received two honors for his work: the Helen Hamlyn Design Award – Snowdon Award for Disability and the Dyson School of Design Engineering DESIRE Award for Social Impact.
If you ask him about the awards, he says that the best reward is to see that his grandmother had a positive reaction to Jelly Drops.