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Man Invents Edible Water That Looks Like Sweets To Keep Dementia Patients Hydrated

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and that's not wrong. But compassion can be equally responsible at times.

Brit Lewis Hornby was just trying to help out his grandmother, as so many of us would, but in the process, he's created something remarkable that could help out so, so many others.

Like many innovators, Lewis's creation started with something that hit close to home.

Alzheimer's Society

Lewis's grandmother, Pat, has dementia. After she had to be hospitalized for dehydration, spending 24 hours getting IV fluids, Lewis was moved to find a way to help her out.

Alzheimer's and dementia are cruel.

Unsplash | Alex Boyd

One of the things you don't think about is that, with severe memory problems, people with dementia can simply forget to drink, or where to find water, or even how to drink or swallow. Dehydration is a real issue.

Worse still, the symptoms of dementia can mask the symptoms of dehydration.

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This can be due to issues patients have in communicating that they're thirsty, but it's also possible for patients to not recognize their own dehydration in some cases.

To better understand the issue, Lewis went as far as spending a week in a dementia care home and consulting with dementia psychologists and doctors.

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What he came up with just might be a game changer.

Noticing that Pat still has a sweettooth, Lewis decided to try disguising hydration as a fun treat.

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And so he created Jelly Drops. They're just brightly colored little balls containing 90% water, with some gelling agents and electrolytes.

And while that's important for the actual hydration, some features of this product are important for the patients.

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Namely, that they're as easy to pop into your mouth as a normal candy treat is.

When Lewis first tried Jelly Drops with his grandmother, they were an instant hit.

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"When first offered, grandma ate seven Jelly drops in 10 minutes," he said, "the equivalent to a cup full of water, something that would usually take hours and require much more assistance."

As word has spread about Jelly Drops, Lewis has been racking up design awards.

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He's taken home awards including the Helen Hamlyn Snowdon Award for Disability, and the DESIRE award for social impact from the Dyson School of Design Engineering.

The drops also scored the Meaning-Centered Design Award, and both the Audience and People's Choice Award at the 2019 Pitch@Palace.

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Better still, Jelly Drops now has an official partnership with the Alzheimer's Society in the U.K.

Unfortunately, Jelly Drops aren't available for purchase just yet.

Vimeo | Lewis Hornby

Lewis is still fine-tuning his design to make sure they're able to help as many seniors with dementia as possible.

He wants to ensure his design meets as many dietary restrictions as it can.


In particular, he has vegans, diabetics, and those who might have more difficulty swallowing in mind.

However, everything seems to be trending in the right direction.

The most recent trials with Pat and her fellow dementia patients had "fantastic results" and "provided invaluable insights as we build toward launching the product."

So, if your loved ones could benefit from Jelly Drops, keep your eyes peeled!

h/t The Alzheimer's Site