London-based student Lewis Hornby is a grandson on a mission. When he noticed that his dementia-afflicted grandmother was having trouble staying hydrated, he came up with Jelly Drops—bite-sized pods of edible water that look just like tasty treats.
Each of these colorful “candies” is made up of mostly water, with gelling agents and electrolytes making up just 10% of their composition. Available in a rainbow of colors and presented in packaging reminiscent of a box of chocolates, Jelly Drops are an easy and engaging way to avoid dehydration—a common problem for those suffering from degenerative neurological diseases.
“It is very easy for people with dementia to become dehydrated,” he explains. “Many no longer feel thirst, don’t know how to quench thirst, or don’t have the dexterity to drink.” With this in mind, Hornby set out to find a solution. In addition to seeking advice from psychologists and doctors, he opted to “experience” life with dementia himself through the use of virtual reality tools and a week in a care home.
Once he was familiar with what dementia patients need, he brainstormed what they want. “From my observations, people with dementia find eating much easier than drinking. Even still, it can be difficult to engage and encourage them to eat. I found the best way to overcome this is to offer them a treat! This format excites people with dementia, they instantly recognize it and know how to interact with it.”
Case in point? Hornby’s own grandmother’s reaction: “When first offered, grandma ate seven Jelly Drops in 10 minutes, the equivalent to a cup full of water—something that would usually take hours and require much more assistance.”
Though Jelly Drops is still in its trial phase, it has already earned Hornby two honors: the Helen Hamlyn Design Award – Snowdon Award for Disability and the Dyson School of Design Engineering DESIRE Award for Social Impact.
Clearly, Jelly Drops’ future is looking bright!