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Understanding the Importance of Activities of Daily Living for Older Adults


The medical abbreviation ADL stands for activities of daily living, and a person's ability to perform ADLs can determine that person's need for assistance doing daily tasks. While some seniors can perform ADLs independently with no issues, others may find that certain tasks of daily living are more difficult to do as they age. At that point, assisted living may be beneficial.

What Are Examples of ADLs?

Once you know that ADL stands for activities of daily living, you may additionally want to know what those activities specifically are. In short, these activities are those that must be performed by a person to meet his or her personal needs, and they include tasks such as:

  • Bathing
  • Toileting
  • Dressing
  • Eating

Additionally, activities of daily living can be broken up into two smaller categories: basic activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living.

What Are Basic ADLs?

Basic ADLs often come to mind first when you think about the daily tasks you need to do to take care of yourself. These include all the tasks you need to do every day to stay healthy, including tasks involving personal hygiene, hydration, and physical movement.

Seniors who need assistance performing these types of activities often require a personal or medical assistant to help them. However, the level of help needed can vary since some seniors can independently perform simpler tasks like eating, but may require help with more intensive tasks, such as showering. In some cases, seniors can use medical assistive devices, like walkers or canes, too, to reduce the need for medical assistance.

In any case, a person who feels that he or she needs assistance with basic tasks should always seek help so that falls and other risks of injury can be prevented. While some seniors may feel hesitant to ask for help performing basic daily tasks, they should know that medical professionals always want to help but also want to keep seniors as independent as possible.

What Are Instrumental ADLs?

Instrumental activities of daily living, or IADLs, are often overlooked since they are not necessarily performed every day. Instead, these types of activities are usually performed as needed, and they can be handled by others in cases where a person is unable to handle them. Some examples of IADLs include tasks such as:

  • Managing finances
  • Preparing meals
  • Cleaning the home
  • Managing medications
  • Shopping

Some seniors who can perform basic ADLs may have trouble when it comes to instrumental ADLs and vice versa. However, it is important that all seniors perform both types of activities independently or find help to perform them so that they can remain safe in their homes and live a healthy life.

Activities of daily living are often taken for granted, but seniors who struggle with them should know that help is always available. When you need help with daily tasks, consider moving to a senior-oriented community, such as the community found at Edgemere, where independent living is available to adults age 55+.

If you are interested in learning more about Edgemere’s senior living community, connect with our team by calling (214) 225-7990.