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Activities of Daily Living and How They Apply to Senior Living

a female caregiver goes over ADLs with a female senior

It’s not common to think about the activities of daily living (ADLs) until you’re starting to struggle with them. But, for seniors, the activities of daily living can require more attention. Managing these everyday tasks is essential to living alone or in an independent living community.

While this list can vary, the most common ADLs for seniors are typically broken down into five basic categories:

  1. Personal hygiene – Bathing, showering, oral care, nail care, personal grooming
  2. Dressing – Being able to make weather-appropriate clothing choices and physically dress or undress without assistance.
  3. Eating – Purchasing food, meal preparation, feeding yourself
  4. Maintaining continence – Using a restroom without additional support
  5. Mobility – Getting in and out of bed, moving around independently, standing from a sitting position

A senior’s level of independence can be measured by their ability to perform these five ADLs for seniors on their own.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living For Seniors

While ADLs are pivotal to successfully living independently, there are also instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) that are important for older adults. While IADLs aren’t essential for basic functioning, they can help a person live more independently and confidently on their own. Physicians typically assess how well someone can manage IADLs since they’re more complex than baseline ADLs.

Some examples of IADLs for older adults include:

  • Housekeeping, laundry and other home care chores
  • Money management
  • Moving/changing residences
  • Shopping for necessities
  • Medication management
  • Using the telephone or computer

How ADL/IADL Assessments Are Used in Senior Care Communities

Both ADL and IADL assessments can be used to help caregivers and physicians determine if a senior can safely live independently at home or in a senior living setting. Since the goal is to help aging adults find the highest quality of life possible, it’s essential to test ADLs periodically. Regular testing can make it easier to notice signs of deterioration or improvement.

The types of assessments most often used include:

  • Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living – This assessment is designed to award points for each ADL a person can complete independently. The total number of points scored on this assessment can help determine how independent an older adult is and what level of care they may need.
  • Barthel ADL Index – This assessment includes all the basic activities of daily living and includes grooming and climbing stairs. It’s often used in acute-care settings to help determine any subtle changes in a person’s health or wellness.
  • Functional Independence Measure – This comprehensive assessment combines ADLs, IADLS and other social domains. The higher the score, the more independent a person is at completing everyday tasks.

Senior living communities offer various levels of care ranging from independent living to assisted living and, sometimes, memory care. Senior living communities will work with physicians and family caregivers to help assess a loved one’s needs and make recommendations for the proper level of care. Independent living is reserved for residents who require little to no assistance. Assisted living is for individuals who need support with activities of daily living, and memory care is explicitly targeted at individuals who need specialized memory support.

Learn More About Residential and Care Options at Parkwood

At Parkwood, people can find the type of living that suits their needs. We have earned a reputation for excellence in senior living – from our desirable location to our dedicated staff and management team.

One unique characteristic of the Parkwood rental community is that it offers a variety of lifestyle options and one convenient, all-inclusive monthly fee. You’ll pay only for the care you need, when you need it. Learn more about our independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care and rehabilitation.

Discover the wonderful people, the beautiful setting and a world of possibilities when you schedule a tour of our Bedford, Texas, senior living community.