The Fundamentals of ADLs and IADLs


The Fundamentals of ADLs and IADLs

If you are familiar with senior care, assisted living, or even occupational therapy, you have very likely come across the terms "Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)" and "Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLS)." Both of these phrases refer to the same thing. On the other hand, the majority of individuals undoubtedly aren't acquainted with these terms.

As a family caregiver or someone searching for senior living for a loved one, it can be very beneficial to familiarize yourself with ADLS and IADLs, and how they relate to aging, independence, and senior care, which can be especially helpful if you are just starting your search.

Assisted Living Locators of Northern Virginia is a Senior Living Placement service that provides information and help to families in the Northern Virginia area who are looking for senior living options such as independent living, assisted living, memory care, in-home care, or any other type of senior living option. In this article, we will discuss what ADLs and IADLs are, how help is assessed, and how to determine the independence level of a family member.

What are Activities of Daily Living?

ADLs are the basic responsibilities that must be met by an individual on their own before they can be considered independent. These are the types of activities we must learn as young children, but as we age, they become more or less automatic functions of our life. However, at a certain age, it may become increasingly more difficult for us to carry out these responsibilities effectively and timely. According to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 8.5% of persons between the ages of 75 and 84 require some or all assistance with ADLs, whereas 21% of those over 85 years old do.

Dr. Sidney Katz, a globally recognized geriatrician and health services researcher, identified the six fundamental ADLs necessary for functional living, which include the following:

  • Bathing and Grooming: The ability to bathe oneself and maintain basic hygiene unaided.
  • Dressing: The ability to select appropriate clothing and dress oneself.
  • Feeding and Eating (excluding meal preparation): The ability to independently bring food from plate to mouth, chew, and swallow.
  • Continence: The ability to control one's bladder and bowel movements.
  • Toileting: The ability to get on and off the toilet without assistance.
  • Mobility and Transferring: The ability to independently move in and out of a bed or chair.

Dr. Katz also developed an Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living to assess an adult's level of dependency and evaluate their general state of health. This index considers each action in a spectrum ranging from complete independence to complete dependence. For instance, some people may be able to finish the activity independently without any aid. In contrast, others may need only minor assistance with tasks like physical support or reminders, while others may require thorough supervision and support.

Assessing a senior's ability to execute ADLs effectively is valuable in some government assistance programs, like Medicaid and veteran benefits. It can also help establish the appropriate degree of care and assistance for an individual. The assistance assisted living and memory care communities provide individuals with ADLs can be tailored to meet their specific needs.

What are Instrumental Activities of Daily Living?

In contrast to ADLs, IADLs do not need to be performed to support functional living. Nevertheless, they have the potential to dramatically enhance a person's quality of life and make it possible for that individual to live on their own successfully. IADLs are activities that we usually learn as young adults and are characterized by a higher level of mental complexity, organizational depth, and strategic planning than ADLs. A decline in an individual's performance of IADLs can frequently signal a loss in cognitive health.

Similar to Dr. Katz's index for ADLs, the Lawton-Brody Scale measures the functionality of IADLs. Like the ADL Index, the Lawton-Brody Scale works on a spectrum and considers a range of abilities. According to this index, IADLs include the ability to:

  • Plan, prepare, and serve meals.
  • Manage personal finances.
  • Use communication devices, like a computer and telephone.
  • Travel independently in a vehicle or on public transportation
  • Manage home and housekeeping tasks.
  • Complete all shopping needs.

The Importance of ADLs and IADLs

Evaluating ADLs and IADLs can be very helpful to family members, caregivers, and healthcare professionals. You'll be able to gauge your loved one's health and how effectively they can perform essential daily tasks. By determining your family member's ability to complete those tasks, you will be able to answer specific questions regarding their well-being, including:

  • Even though she says she is doing fine, how is Mom really doing?
  • Does Dad need someone to assist him on a regular basis?
  • Should my parents really be living on their own? Is it even safe for them to do so?
  • Should we start looking into assisted living or memory care options?

Older adults who start to require a higher level of assistance with ADLs and IADLs are ideal candidates for assisted living and memory care communities. Assisted living and memory care communities supply residents with skilled and thoughtful assistance with ADLs and other aspects of personal care needs, and they also provide a way of life that complements IADLs. Moreover, residents of these communities do not need to worry about most IADLs because the communities offer a variety of services and amenities to residents, such as meal preparation, transportation, and maintenance. These are just a few of the many benefits of moving into an assisted living or memory care community.

For more information or no-cost assistance with independent living, assisted living, memory care, in-home care, or other senior living options in Northern Virginia’s Prince William County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Arlington County, or Alexandria, please call our local elder care experts today at (703) 878-7870 or contact us via e-mail.