Article Highlights

  • ADLs are used as a measurement of a person’s functional status
  • First proposed in 1950 by Sidney Katz, who developed the first evaluation tool called the Katz ADL scale
  • Other assessment methods include the Barthel ADL Index, as well as the Roper–Logan–Tierney model of nursing
  • ADLs consist of Basic ADLs and Instrumental ADLs
  • Basics ADLs are more essential for survival than IADLs
  • Instrumental ADLs (IADLs) are not necessary for fundamental functioning, but they let an individual live independently in a community

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

Activities of daily living (ADLs) are basic tasks that must be accomplished every day for an individual to thrive. Generally, ADLs can be broken down into the following categories:

  • Personal hygiene
    Bathing, grooming, oral, nail and hair care
  • Continence management
    A person’s mental and physical ability to properly use the bathroom
  • Dressing
    A person’s ability to select and wear the proper clothes for different occasions
  • Feeding
    Whether a person can feed themselves or needs assistance
  • Ambulating
    The extent of a person’s ability to change from one position to the other and to walk independently

Understanding how each category affects a person’s ability to care for themselves can mean the difference between graceful and independent aging and needing daily assistance. Financially, it can also mean the ability of an elderly or disabled person to become eligible for state and Federally-funded government help, or to qualify for reimbursements from privately owned Long Term Care Insurance policies (LTC insurance).

Instrumental Activities of Daily living (IADLs)

Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) are somewhat more complex but nevertheless also reflect on a person’s ability to live independently and thrive. IADLs thus include securing assistance for:

  • Companionship and mental support
    This is a fundamental and much needed IADL for daily living. It reflects on the help that may be needed to keep a person in a positive frame of mind
  • Transportation and shopping
    How much a person can

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