What are ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) and IADLs

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When speaking with professionals in senior care services and healthcare professionals about senior care for a loved one they may ask about their need for ADLs or their IADLs.

ADL is a shorter term that stands for Activities of Daily Living and IADL is a term that stands for Instrumental Activities of Daily Living.

These two terms represent the key everyday life tasks that an average person needs to be able to manage to live at home on their own safely.

If you are a family member in charge of the care for a senior aged loved one, it is a good idea to be familiar with these terms, the skills they include, and any related skills. The level of difficulty with ADLs and IADLs help to determine how much help/care, supervision, and hands-on assistance a person needs. The level of ADL and IADL functioning can also determine the level and cost of care for a loved one. It helps to determine the level of care your loved one would best benefit from.

Activities of Daily Living are the basic self-care tasks that all humans learn as young children.

They can also sometimes be referred to as Basic Activities of Daily Living (BADLs). These activities include:

  • Walking: this includes getting around the home or outside on your own. It can also be called ambulating
  • Feeding: the ability to simply get food from a plate to your mouth
  • Dressing and Grooming: the ability to pick out clothes for the day, put them on the body, and adequately manage personal appearance (i.e. Brushing hair, brushing teeth, trimming nails)
  • Using the Restroom: getting to the toilet in time, using it appropriately, the ability to clean oneself, and the ability to get up from the toilet
  • Bathing: the ability to wash the entire body in the bath or shower on one’s own
  • Transferring: the ability to move the body from one position to another. For example: the ability to move from the bed to a chair or the ability to get up from a bed and hold onto a walker.

For every ADL a person can vary in their abilities and the amount of help they need from just a little bit of supervision and guidance to full dependency requiring tasks to be performed for them.

IADLs are self-care tasks usually learned as a teenager, these tasks require a higher level of thinking and organization. IADLs include:

  • Finances: this can include paying bills and managing any financial assets
  • Transportation: this can include driving oneself somewhere or the ability to organize transportation to get oneself where they need to go in a timely manner
  • Shopping and Cooking: The ability to make sure you have the items you need for daily life and get what you need and the ability to prepare food for consumption
  • Housecleaning and Maintenance: cleaning the kitchen after eating, tidying up main living spaces, cleaning the bathroom when needed and keeping up with minor home repair needs or calling for help to take care of them
  • Managing Communications: the ability to get to and answer the phone, call someone when needed and get and answer mail
  • Medication: getting prescriptions filled and taking correct doses of needed medicine on time

Generally older adults should be able to manage ADLs and IADLs on their own to live independently.

These classifications are used by professionals to assess the amount of functionality a senior person has. Problems with these tasks often indicate problems with physical health or cognitive health and can help a professional to diagnose a person and advise a helpful level of care to get them the best care possible to compensate for or, in some cases, overcome difficulties.

At Three Tree Living we make it a priority to know each or our residents specific ADL and IADL levels and needs. We have trained and skilled staff that administer just the right amount of help to every person we  serve. We treat them like our own family and it is our mission to make every client feel like they are at home, because they are.

For more information on our personalized and memory care services in Burien please contact us at any time.