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A Treat with a Clever Trick to Help People with Dementia

A UK college student with a grandmother struggling with dementia devised a clever way to help her stay hydrated during the day. Now, his idea promises to help seniors worldwide overcome this common problem among those suffering from cognitive decline.

How To Turn Water Into A Snack

Lewis Hornby is a student at the Royal College of Art/Imperial College in London. A while back, his grandma Pat was rushed to the hospital, suffering from severe dehydration. She recovered after a day of receiving IV fluids, but Lewis knew that her dementia had been a contributing factor since staying hydrated is a common issue. People with dementia can forget to drink during the day, become confused when trying to locate a drink, or lack the skill to hold a cup or bottle.

Lewis's solution was ingenious. He literally “repackaged” water into a candy-like treat designed to appeal to his grandmother and others with her condition. The result was called Jelly Drops, a colorful selection of bright, easy-to-grasp treats that proved irresistible --- and loaded with exactly what was needed to stay hydrated.

“When first offered, grandma ate seven Jelly Drops in ten minutes,” reported Lewis, “the equivalent to a cup full of water, something that would usually take hours and require much more assistance. Eating the whole box would account for around half the necessary daily fluid intake.”

Developed After Consulting With Experts, Patients, And Caregivers

Lewis came up with Jelly Drops after weeks of observing his grandmother's behavior, consulting with dementia experts and visiting other senior care residents, caregivers and family members. “Realizing a solid form of hydration would be easier to interact with than a liquid, I consulted with doctors to understand how to create a 'super-hydrating' food,” Lewis says. “Jelly Drops are over 90% water, with extra ingredients making them more hydrating than just drinking that volume alone. Their solid format also increases hydration as it takes longer for the body to break them down, giving the kidneys a better chance of absorbing the water.”

After collecting several prestigious design awards for Jelly Drops and participating in a dementia trial sponsored by the BBC World Service, Lewis recently announced a partnership with the University of West London's 'Food Innovation Lab' to develop the product and ideally become involved in one of their dementia hydration research programs to assess Jelly Drops’ effectiveness. Hopefully, after completing the proper testing and vetting channels, Jelly Drops could be in the hands of caregivers in the United States in the near future.

Hats off to Lewis Hornby—and other innovators like him—who are helping to create a world where dementia and similar conditions are being met with caring solutions that improve patients' health while making the lives of caregivers easier and less stressful.

Meet Lewis’ Grandma Pat and watch him demonstrate the concept of Jelly Drops here