Supporting Hydration With Jelly Drops
The topic of dehydration and dementia is so important. People living with dementia can struggle with their water intake, and recent research* has shown that understanding ways to stay hydrated was a real priority for them and their carers.
Which is why we’re so pleased to have discovered Jelly Drops. These water sweets are designed to help people increase their fluid intake – 16 drops are equal to a glass of water (200ml). Backed by the Alzheimer’s Society and hailed as “life-saving” by families and carers alike, we spoke with their founder Lewis Hornby to understand how his time in a care home helped him develop this innovative hydration aid.
You can learn more about supporting hydration with Jelly Drops by watching our interview with Lewis below. Or keep reading, we go into detail on dehydration and dementia before turning our attention to the hydrating sweets that are transforming how people up their water consumption.
Dehydration And Dementia
As we age we become more susceptible to dehydration. There’s a few reasons for this – older adults naturally have less water in their bodies, they are often less thirsty and medication can also play a role.
And when our loved ones have a cognitive impairment, the dehydration risk increases because:
- They forget to drink, or how to drink: The part of your brain that signals when you’re dehydrated doesn’t always work as it should when it comes to dementia (this is especially true with Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia). And if your loved one can’t recongise when they’re thirsty, and are not prompted to drink then they could become dehydrated. There are other problems, such as not being able to drink so easily from a cup or straw. People living with dementia may also lose the ability to problem solve, so whilst they may find themselves thirsty they don’t see drinking water as the solution.
- Fear of water: Water is linked to going to the toilet, drinking and bathing – all daily habits which become more difficult for people living with dementia. As a result, they can often develop a fear of water that makes increasing fluid intake more difficult.
- Incontinence and mobility issues: If your elderly parent has continence issues or finds it hard to move around, they may decrease their water intake so they don’t need to go to the bathroom as much.
How Much Fluid Should An Elderly Person Drink?
On average, older adults need between 1.5 litres to 2 litres of liquid a day. And when they find it harder to take liquid in, or have to rely on carers for hydration, it’s easy to see why dehydration can become a problem.
The elderly only have to lose 2% of their body fluid to be mildly dehydrated, and 3-4% to experience severe dehydration that could result in hospital admission.
Symptoms Of Dehydration In Elderly
Dehydration can make the symptoms of dementia worse by increasing your loved one’s levels of confusion, concentration and irritability. They are at a higher risk of falling over and it can also lead to more urinary tract infections.
Look out for these telltale signs and symptoms of dehydration:
- Dry mouth, tongue and lips
- Sunken eyes
- Dizziness when they stand up
- Dark urine
If you’re wondering how to get someone to drink more water, then Jelly Drops are a great hydration solution. These hydrating sweets are 95% water, sugar free, vegan and help people with dementia to increase their water intake independently.
The Inspiration Behind Jelly Drops
The idea for a sweet to boost elderly water intake came about when Lewis’ Grandma Pat was admitted to hospital. The family was told to expect the worse, but it turned out to be severe dehydration and after an IV drip, she was back to her happy self.
It showed Lewis just how interlinked dementia and dehydration are, and he made finding a solution the focus of his graduation project at design school.
Lewis spent a month at his grandma’s care home. Immersing himself in the environment, he spoke with residents and the dedicated care staff and observed behaviour.
What he saw was that his grandma (and many of the residents) struggled to drink from a cup. Some weren’t engaged with the act of drinking, while others didn’t recognize the vessel or have the hand dexterity to pick it up.
At the same time, Lewis realised that the routine of choosing and eating from a chocolate selection box was an intuitive behavior that wasn’t lost even with dementia. People became more engaged when Lewis handed round a box of chocolates and he saw the opportunity to create a socially enjoyable, hydrating solution.
They’re sweets that everyone can enjoy but the idea just happened from my grandma’s own struggle to stay hydrated.Lewis Hornby, Jelly Drops
About Jelly Drops
One tray of Jelly Drops holds 24 sweets – that’s the equivalent of 300ml of water. They help to keep your loved one’s hydrated and make it easier for you, the carer to look after them.
It was important to Lewis that these rehydration drops don’t just boost elderly water intake, but increase independent action and promote dignity.
The colourful Jelly Drops come in white packaging so are easily visible and they stand proud so are easy to pick up, even for people with limited dexterity.
Jelly Drops are a great gift option – they get the same reaction as a nice box of chocolates, but this also has the benefit of being useful and healthy too! If you want to be inspired by other gift ideas for dementia, check out our gift guide.
Available in six flavours (strawberry, raspberry, blackcurrant, orange, lemon, lime), a tray costs £7.95 from the website or subscribe to save 15%. They will soon also be available in the USA – we know people can’t wait to have them there so we’ll keep you posted! Or check out the Jelly Drops Facebook page.
Dementia And Water Consumption
Jelly Drops can be a treat, or used daily – it’s up to you. But there are other ways that could work to encourage your loved one to boost their water intake.
- Frequent prompts to drink: If they aren’t remembering to drink, then prompts throughout the day can help. Depending on their level of cognition, this could range from phone calls to remind them (or setting reminders on their Alexa) to taking water to them and helping them drink.
- Bright cups and glasses: Adapted cups that are lightweight and bright are easier for your loved one to spot, pick up and drink from. Blue crockery and drinkware have been created especially for people with dementia.
- Offer foods high in water: Cube and freeze watermelon, or cut up cucumber into finger food sizes. Other fruit and veg with a high water content are berries, grapes, tomato and apple. Or go for soup and ice lollies, both of which have lots of water in too.
- Make flavoured water: Make water look and taste more appealing, with lemon slices or mint sprigs. Even adding ice cubes can make the drink appear fresh and more likely to be drunk.
- Speak with their GP: Your elderly parent’s doctor may be able to review their medication or provide some individual advice on ways to increase hydration.
Everyone needs water for normal bodily actions such as regulating temperature and maintaining blood pressure, and becoming dehydrated puts a strain on our bodies. Someone with dementia will become dehydrated when they lose more water from their body than they take in, and it can be difficult for carers to encourage our loved ones to boost their daily fluid intake.
And that’s why we love Jelly Drops water sweets so much. These innovative hydration sweets are a great way to boost hydration and encourage social interaction.
*Research by Abdelhamid et al, 2016