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  • Writer's pictureHaley Burress

What Are Activities of Daily Living?

As you begin to search for senior living communities, or as you wonder if your older loved one might even be appropriate for senior living, it can be difficult to find a way to determine what type of care or support your loved one might need. Fortunately, healthcare professionals and senior living communities use activities of daily living to help them assess how much support a resident might need, and if that senior would thrive in their community.


Knowing more about activities of daily living, or ADLs, can help you determine what type of support your loved one might need in order to feel their best and stay healthy.


What Are ADLs?

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services defines ADLs as tasks related to personal care. Essentially, activities of daily living, or ADLs, are activities or tasks we all do to take care of ourselves each day. Activities of daily living include:

  • Dressing

  • Grooming, like brushing our teeth or our hair

  • Showering or bathing

  • Dressing

  • Transferring, or getting in and out of bed or a chair

  • Eating

  • Toileting, which includes incontinence management


Older adults can sometimes have challenges completing their ADLs without support or assistance due to chronic pain or stiffness that might come from arthritis, cognitive decline that comes with dementia, or decreased mobility or energy. It can be quite helpful for family members to understand what type of assistance an older loved one needs to complete each ADL, as it can help them find the support they need.


What are IADLs?

Instrumental activities of daily living, or IADLs, are the tasks or activities someone needs to perform in order to live independently at home. Again, we all perform these tasks, but some older adults can find themselves needing extra support as they age. IADLs include:

  • Managing money, including paying bills on time and keeping up with a budget

  • Making healthcare appointments and going to those appointments

  • Safe medication management

  • Keeping up with chores around the house

  • Managing transportation, including scheduling transportation if the person no longer drives

  • Making meals, including grocery shopping and meal planning


Instrumental activities of daily living include complex cognitive skills, which means someone living in the early stage of dementia might struggle with these tasks before needing support with ADLs. Family members might also notice any deficiencies in keeping up with IADLs sooner, as they might see their loved one losing weight, taking the wrong medications, or bills piling up in the mailbox.


elderly woman painting

How Do Senior Living Communities Use ADLs in Their Care Assessments?

Because activities of daily living are mostly standard throughout the healthcare industry, assessing these skills are a standard part of any senior living community. Knowing how much support the person needs with ADLs can help the senior living community determine if they can provide that support so that the person will remain healthy and happy at the community.


Most senior living communities assess ADLs before a new resident moves in, as a part of the inquiry process. Someone from the community will look at the older adult’s medical history to determine ADLs support, as well as ask the older adult and their family member how they typically perform ADLs and what type of assistance they might need or want.


In addition, ADLs are informally assessed throughout the resident’s stay in order to ensure they are receiving the support they need. As the older adult needs more help with ADLs, community staff will meet with family members to talk about what that means for their situation. For example, additional ADL support might mean the resident will need to pay more each month or will need to bring in additional caregivers through an in-home agency in order to receive that support.


What Does ADL Assistance Look Like?

Senior living communities, like assisted living and residential care homes, provide personalized support with ADLs for residents. Assistance looks different for every resident and might include:

  • Verbal cueing and reminders

  • Laying out supplies for the task

  • Stand-by support for safety

  • Hands-on assistance


One resident might need friendly reminders that it is time to walk to dinner while another resident might need help standing up from their chair and getting their walker to use on the way to dinner. Senior living communities specialize in learning what the resident needs and then creating a plan of care that instructs caregivers how to best support that resident with their ADLs. The right support and assistance can lead to more energy, less falls, and more independence.


Let Us Help.

Ready to learn more about senior living communities that can provide ADL support? Let our team help. At iNavigate, we work with clients to find out more about their preferences and needs. Then, we help to find a senior living community that will help your loved one feel their best. Even better, our services are free to you! Learn more and schedule your free assessment.



©2023, iNavigate Senior Living Solutions, All Rights Reserved.


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