Understand how to assess your aging loved one’s ability to complete activities of daily living (ADLs) to help ensure they live their best life.
What are activities of daily living (ADLs)?
ADLs are basic tasks a person needs to be able to do on their own to live independently. Health issues and aging may make it difficult for seniors to complete certain everyday self-care tasks that are essential to keep them healthy and safe.
Basic ADLs include six essential skills:
- Bathing and showering: the ability to bathe self and maintain dental, hair, and nail hygiene
- Continence: having complete control of bowels and bladder
- Dressing: the ability to select appropriate clothes and
outerwear, and to dress self independently
- Mobility: being able to walk or transfer from one place to another, specifically in and out of a bed or chair
- Feeding (excluding meal preparation): the ability to get food from plate to mouth, and to chew and swallow
- Toileting: the ability to get on and off the toilet and clean self without assistance
What are instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs)?
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, or IADLs, are more complex activities required for senior independent living that often involve thinking and organizational skills. IADLs outlined by the Lawton-Brody scale assessment include:
- Cleaning and housekeeping, including maintenance and other home care chores
- Doing laundry
- Managing money
- Managing medications and taking medicines as directed
- Preparing meals
- Shopping for groceries and other necessities
- Transportation, including changing residences and moving
- Using communication devices, including the telephone or computer
Why are ADLs and IADLs important for caregivers?
ADLs represent everyday tasks that challenge both mental and physical capabilities. A person needs to have the physical ability to perform ADL tasks themselves, and the planning and mental capacity to conceptualize the tasks and understand what needs to be done.