Those who suffer from Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia often have difficulties with getting enough hydration during the day. This is due to a variety of reasons related to the aging process, but is also brought on by the fact that some dementia patients simply forget to drink enough water or misplace their water container. Others may not find water necessary at the moment or not feel thirsty, yet because the body gets worse at transmitting signals in old age, they may be dehydrated and not even realize it. Some may even have difficulty swallowing, a condition known dysphagia, that many dementia patients suffer from. Caretakers are often needed to monitor and help dementia patients to get the water they need.
One young man, Lewis Hornby from the U.K. noticed that his grandmother was having difficulty with getting enough water to drink and took it upon himself to invent some kind of solution for getting seniors hydrated. To better grasp the problem, Lewis utilized sensory deprivation and VR tools that helped him to understand the challenges facing dementia patients. He also spent time talking with a dementia psychologist and spent a whole week living within a dementia care home consulting with doctors about how to create the right product to solve this problem. He tested multiple prototypes within the care all in an effort to help his grandmother and other dementia patients. Says Hornby:
“For people with dementia the symptoms of dehydration are often mistakenly attributed to their underlying condition, meaning it can easily go unnoticed until it becomes life-threatening, About a year ago my grandma was unexpectedly rushed to hospital, she was found to be severely dehydrated. Thankfully, after 24 hours on IV fluids she was back to her normal happy self, and is still enjoying a good quality of life to this day.”
After multiple product iterations, Hornby came up with Jelly Drops, brightly colored balls of H20 and electrolytes that look like tasty candies. The balls are made mostly of water and gelling agents, and taste great. They are easy to see, simple to grasp, don’t make a mess, and don’t require any utensils. The packaging that Hornby came up with doesn’t look like a medical device. Instead, it looks like a tasty box of candies.
“When first offered, grandma ate 7 Jelly Drops in 10 minutes,” says Hornby, “the equivalent to a cup full of water, something that would usually take hours and require much more assistance.”
Hornby purposely made the packaging of the Jelly Drops appealing and non-threatening. The clear lid makes it so patients can see inside without having to lift the lid, making the Jelly Drops easy to find and making it easier to remember when to eat. There’s also a special handle on the box so that the user can open the lid and not have to hold it up, freeing a hand to eat with. This is important for dementia patients who could struggle with opening and holding the container.
Hornby’s invention has won the Helen Hamlyn Design Award, the Snowdon Award for Disability, and the Dyson School of Design Engineering DESIRE Aware for Social Impact. His product is being trialed in several nursing homes and will hopefully be mass sold to multiple locations around the world. He hopes to accomplish more research and kick start production as soon as possible to help more people suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia related problems like his Grandmother.
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Here are some additional ways that you can help your senior living with Alzheimers or dementia related problems.
ENCOURAGE FIRST THING IN THE MORNING
You can encourage your senior to reach for a glass of water first thing in the morning. We often need a little liquid assistance to clear our throats in the morning anyway, so simply encourage them to have a full glass right when they wake up to help them hydrate and flush out the toxins from overnight.
You can set little post it notes or set repeated alerts to tell your senior to stay hydrated. If you live with your senior you can simply remind them. It would be helpful to also have ready access to cold water everywhere around the house, so considering investing several mini coolers or mini fridges.
You can invest in some BPA-free water bottles that the senior can have numbered 1-8. Simply make sure they are filled up every day by either yourself or the senior and encourage them to finish their fun little routine of drinking water while they do whatever it is they do during the day.
You can add a little flavor to senior’s water if they have a sweet tooth. There are juice packets that you can squirt into water that turn them from typical tap to totally tubular. They may also appreciate some natural fruit infusion, so try buying an infusion jug and adding things like pineapple, grapes, and mint.
Speaking of fruit flavor, have some hydrating fruits lying around that your senior can munch on throughout the day! Some of the best foods for seniors to include would be: watermelon, tomatoes, raspberries, oranges, spinach, celery, cucumber, bell peppers, and broccoli. Yum!
If you’re looking for more senior living blogs and resources, make sure to read our informative blogs every week. They will provide answers to many senior living topics. If your thinking it may be time for your loved one to move into one of the best active retirement communities, Landmark Senior Living is the place for you. People. Passion. Purpose. That’s our mantra, and we live by it every day.