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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

Most of the time, individuals don’t think about the activities of daily living (ADLs) – they just do them. However, for older adults, the activities of daily living can require a little more attention. Having the ability to perform these basic tasks is necessary to live independently, whether at home or in a senior living community.

While this list can sometimes 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, preparing food, feeding yourself
  4. Maintaining continence – Using a restroom without additional support
  5. Mobility – Getting  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 on their own.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living For Seniors

Along with the activities of daily living (ADLs), there are instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). These instrumental activities aren’t essential for basic functioning, but they do help a person live independently. It’s important for physicians to assess how well someone can manage IADLs, since they’re  more complex than baseline ADLs.

Some examples of instrumental ADLs 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

ADL and IADL assessments are often used to help caregivers and family physicians decide if a senior can successfully and safely live independently. The goal is to help an aging adult live the best life possible. It can become easier to notice signs of deterioration or improvement through these assessments.
Since many senior living communities provide several living options, including independent living, assisted living, and memory care, each individual’s needs must be assessed.

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 at the end of the 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 covers 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 (FIM) – 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 will work with physicians and family caregivers to help assess a loved one’s needs and make recommendations for the proper level of care. Typically, independent living is designed for seniors who need little to no assistance, assisted living is for individuals who need support with activities of daily living, and memory care is uniquely targeted to those who need specialized memory support.

Learn More About Residential and Care Options at Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves is dedicated to creating a warm and intimate senior living community where residents feel a true sense of comfort. Our community offers independent living, as well as several residential and care options for those who need assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation.

The friendly, compassionate team at Autumn Leaves creates a welcoming environment where residents will thrive. With our commitment to providing a high quality of life for residents, we make it our goal to exceed expectations, day in and day out.

We invite you to learn more about our senior living community and schedule a tour to find out what sets us apart from other communities in and around Dallas, Texas. Contact us today.