What are ADLs and iADLs?

Daily routines are important to establish. They help our schedules run smoothly and give us peace of mind. While preparing balanced meals, showering, and getting dressed might seem like mundane things we do every day; these are considered important activities of daily living (ADLs).

While everyone has instances where they feel too tired to shower or unmotivated to cook dinner, it’s crucial to understand the difference between an off day and an inability to complete ADLs. At Village Green Senior Living, our Seattle senior living communities understand the importance of these tasks in order to enhance wellness and promote safety.

Below, our team explains activities of daily living (ADLs) and how they impact a person’s quality of life.

What Are ADLs and Why Do They Matter?

Activities of daily living, often referred to as ADLs, is a term used by doctors and healthcare providers to describe basic self-care tasks that a person must complete to live safely and independently. In addition, ADLs are commonly used as a guideline to measure a person’s ability to function independently, especially when factoring in age or health concerns. 

ADLs are typically divided into two separate categories: 

  • Basic ADLs
  • Instrumental ADLs

Basic Activities of Daily Living

Basic ADLs can be thought of as self-care tasks that a person must complete every day, including:

  • Mobility and Transferring: the ability to move freely from place to place or transfer in and out of a chair or bed without help.
  • Personal Hygiene and Grooming: a person’s ability to maintain oral care, skin care, and hair care.
  • Showering and Bathing: the consistency with which a person is able to regularly bathe themselves.
  • Toileting: a person’s ability to get on or off of the toilet and properly clean oneself after going to the bathroom.
  • Dressing: the ability to get dressed independently and make appropriate clothing choices.

  • Feeding: a person’s ability to feed themselves, eat regularly, and make appropriate food selections.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

While instrumental ADLs, or iADLs, are not essential self-care and functioning tasks, they include tasks that are crucial for safety and wellness. While basic ADLs focus on personal health or hygiene needs, iADLs refer to complex tasks and activities that must be completed to maintain safety, success, and livelihood, including:

  • Housekeeping: the ability to keep up with laundry, general home cleanliness, yardwork, organization, and other home maintenance tasks.

  • Money Management: the ability to keep up will bills, avoid making unneeded purchases, and save appropriately.

  • Meal Preparation: the ability to complete the process of planning meals, shopping for ingredients, and cooking.

  • Shopping for Necessities: a person’s ability to go to the grocery store or convenience store and buy the items that one needs.

  • Medication Management: a person’s ability to regularly take needed medications.

  • Technology: the ability to use the telephone or a computer.

How Do ADLs Affect Older Adults?

A person should be able to complete ADLs on their own and have the mental ability to plan out, conceptualize, and prioritize each task that needs to be done throughout the day. 

However, some older adults might have difficulty doing so due to age-related health issues like vision or hearing loss or arthritis. Being mindful of your abilities or the abilities of someone you love is vital to ensuring health and safety. 

  • Are you or is someone you love keeping up with self-care, or is it becoming apparent that grooming and hygiene tasks are being neglected?
  • Is your home or your loved one’s home becoming cluttered or unclean?
  • Are you or is your loved one becoming isolated due to lack of transportation or connection?

Depending on the answers you gain from these questions, it might be time to consider a Seattle senior living community with supportive services. When a person can no longer carry out one or more ADL, it becomes hazardous for their safety and can diminish their quality of life. 

Our Village Green Senior Living communities in Federal Way and West Seattle offer assisted living services that support individuals with ADLs and/or iADLs, from personal hygiene to medication management. Our goal is to provide residents with the best quality of life as they achieve their highest level of wellness in a safe, comfortable, and welcoming community.

We invite you to visit our website to learn more about assisted living communities and how we can help you or someone you love live a safer, healthier lifestyle.


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