What are Activities of Daily Living

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Aging is a natural and graceful process that changes the functional needs of our bodies. Musculoskeletal, sensory, circulatory, neurological, and cognitive changes influence our daily living.  Acute and chronic illnesses, medications, and the environment can also pose more challenges to seniors. There are fundamental activities a patient must be able to rely on to thrive independently. Healthcare professionals working with seniors frequently defer to such terms as Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL).  Sidney Katz originally developed these terms to measure how well a person can manage their day-to-day routine when living independently, while also using checklists to identify any immediate or potential need for medical assistance.

ADLs are essential tasks an elder individual would regularly follow to live comfortably unassisted. Though there is not a universal checklist used across home health agencies, these tasks commonly include:

  • Ambulating: independent walking and moving freely doing different tasks
  • Personal hygiene: bathing, grooming, oral, hair, and hand and feet care.
  • Toileting: mental and physical ability to use the bathroom
  • Dressing: selecting and dressing oneself in proper clothes for various occasions
  • Feeding: comfortable ability to prepare and consume food

What are Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)?

IADLs, on the other hand, describe advanced daily activities that assess a person’s mental wellbeing required in various everyday situations:

  • Communication: using phone and mail, mental awareness, and conversations with others
  • Household maintenance: general upkeep of the home, keeping living area clean and tidy
  • Shopping and transportation: using car or public transport for groceries, clothes, pharmacy, personal care needs, getting yourself to the doctor’s appointments
  • Preparing meals: cooking for yourself and getting groceries
  • Managing finances: understanding of and timely paying household bills
  • Managing medications: obtaining and taking medicines as directed
  • Mental support: having reliable companionship and resources to keep a balanced positive state of mind

ADLs and IADLs are essential evaluation points to determine physical and cognitive care support, review potential assistance with various senior programs, manage insurance type, and general guidance for wellbeing. ADLs and IADLs are also used by home agencies, long-term care providers, occupational and physical therapists, government agencies, social workers, and insurance providers to determine the need for appropriate intervention programs. A health care provider should perform a thorough evaluation to assess any additional functional requirements for a patient not strictly covered by the ADLs and IADLs.

When Is It Time For Home Health Care?

As an older adult, you or your caretakers can certainly follow the above checklist to monitor your ability to perform daily activities.  Keep an eye out for safety factors such as mobility, cognitive impairment, and general health that pose physical, cognitive, financial, or social limitations. Suppose you or your loved ones suspect deviations from your regular routine, a decline in abilities to perform specific tasks, or feeling unsafe in general. In that case, you should consider discussing them with your care provider to determine your needs for senior care and opportunities with your local home agency.

If you require assistance with activities of daily living in the greater Philadelphia area, please contact Premier Home Care at 215-969-2225.  We are glad to meet with you in the comfort of your own home and provide a home health assessment.