Activities of Daily Living

Breaking down industry jargon - Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)

For the most part, you're able to care for yourself but there are little things that are falling through the cracks at home and you could use some support with them.

Most long-term care involves assisting with basic needs rather than providing medical care. The long-term care community measures personal needs by looking at whether an individual requires help with six basic activities that most people do every day without assistance, called activities of daily living (ADLs). ADLs are important to understand because they are used to gauge an individual’s level of functioning.

The six ADLs are generally recognized as:

  • Bathing. The ability to clean oneself and perform grooming activities like shaving and brushing teeth.
  • Dressing. The ability to get dressed by oneself without struggling with buttons and zippers.
  • Eating. The ability to feed oneself.
  • Transferring. Being able to either walk or move oneself from a bed to a wheelchair and back again.
  • Toileting. The ability to get on and off the toilet.
  • Continence. The ability to manage any incontinence or bladder and bowel function.

There are other more complicated tasks that are important to living independantly but aren't necessarily required on a daily basis. These are called instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) and include the following:

  • Using a telephone
  • Managing medications
  • Preparing meals
  • Housekeeping
  • Managing personal finances
  • Shopping for groceries or clothes
  • Accessing transportation
  • Caring for pets

Senior Care and Long-term care providers use ADLs and IADLs as a measure of whether assistance is required and how much assistance is needed.