Man invents 'Jelly Drops' to help dementia patients after his grandmother was rushed to the hospital due to dehydration

Lewis Hornby created hydrating Jelly Drops to help patients like his grandmother Pat, who has dementia, stay hydrated. (Photo: Lewis Hornby via Vimeo)

Lewis Hornby and his family were surprised when his grandmother Pat was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a severe case of dehydration. After spending 24 hours on IV fluids, Pat returned to her happy self, according to Hornby, but the incident stuck with the young man.

Pat has dementia, and like many patients within this category of brain disease, she has difficulty staying hydrated. According to TheAlzheimer’, there are many reasons why a person who has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia may become dehydrated, including forgetting to drink water, not feeling thirsty, and being unable to swallow thin liquids.

Lewis Hornby took matters into his own hands to ensure that his grandmother and other patients like her could get the fluids they needed. He educated himself on the issue by using sensory deprivation tools and virtual reality, reaching out to a dementia psychologist, spending a week living in a dementia care home with his grandmother, and speaking to doctors about how to create a product that could be eaten easily but provide hydration.

Using what he learned, Hornby created Jelly Drops, which come in six bright colors with associated flavors to draw the attention of the dementia patients. The teardrop-shaped treats are composed of 90 percent water along with gelling agents and electrolytes. The solid shapes are much easier to handle and ingest than a glass of water, and they take longer for the body to break down, increasing absorption.

“When first offered, grandma ate 7 Jelly Drops in 10 minutes,” Hornby said, “the equivalent to a cup full of water, something that would usually take hours and require much more assistance.”

Jelly Drops have earned Hornby the Helen Hamlyn Centre Design Award — Snowdon Award for Disability and the Dyson School of Design Engineering DESIRE Award for Social Impact. The product is currently being tested in other care homes in the U.K.

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