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What Are Activities of Daily Living?

 Woman continuing independence through activities of daily living, or ADLs.

Activities of daily living are a helpful measurement of someone's ability to live on their own. If you have doubts about your parent living on their own, assessing their ability to complete activities of daily living is a good place to start.

Why Are Activities of Daily Living Important?

Activities of daily living (ADLs), a term used by health professionals, refer to the basic self-care tasks a person does every day. If someone is able to complete ADLs, they are able to live independently. Activities of daily living include, but are not limited to:

  • Bathing

  • Eating

  • Toileting

  • Grooming

  • Walking

As a person ages, or if they experience health issues such as a stroke or a fall, their ability to perform certain ADLs often decreases. They may find that ADLs have become more difficult to accomplish or take more time to accomplish.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

Branching off of basic ADLs, instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) are not essential for basic functioning, but they do allow a person to live independently within a community.

Instrumental activities of daily living include:

  • Housekeeping

  • Meal preparation

  • Money management

  • Laundry

  • Using the telephone or computer

  • Grocery shopping

Being able to adequately perform the above tasks is essential for older adults to be able to live safely and independently.

If your parent is no longer able to complete one or two ADLs or IADLs, independent living or assisted living may be a good fit to provide the support they need.

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Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living

If you’re unsure of your parent’s ability to adequately perform ADLs, you’re not alone. Originally developed in the 1950s, healthcare professionals will turn to the Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living to assess the accuracy of ADL performance in a person.

The index will rank the accuracy in each performance in six functions:

  • Bathing

  • Dressing

  • Toileting

  • Transferring

  • Continence

  • Feeding

Patients are scored “yes/no” based on independence in each of these six functions. A score of six indicates full function, while 4 is moderate impairment and 2 or below signalizes severe functional impairment.

If you’re curious, take a look at the ADL assessment chart to help you evaluate your parent’s ability. It can help give you an unbiased idea of your parent’s needs. Of course, you can always talk with your parent’s healthcare provider about your concerns. They’ll be able to provide you and your parent with the expert advice you need.

What is Assisted Living--And Who Is It For? >>

Activities of Daily Living in Senior Care

The Katz Index of Independence can help determine and evaluate your parent’s strengths and challenges, and will also pave the way toward developing appropriate care plans to fill the gaps, allowing your parent to live their life to the fullest.

Assisted living supports residents in completing ADLs and IADLs by providing 24/7 care from licensed staff. Activities such as bathing, eating, and walking will be completed with the help of a licensed professional or registered nurse with as little or as much support as needed. At The Esquiline, we focus on every patient’s individual needs and goals to make sure we can meet and exceed your expectations.

Eventually, you, your parent, and their physician may decide a Life Plan Community is the next natural step. The Esquiline offers independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing care for seniors. All three levels of care are available on one campus, under one roof, with dedicated staff serving with compassion and kindness. Schedule your tour today to experience The Esquiline’s warm, friendly spirit.

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