Defining The Two Groups of Daily Living Activities

What Are ADLs and IADLs?

There are essentially two groups that define activities of daily life.  The first is the Activities of Daily Living (or ADLs) which are simple tasks in our every day routines such as dressing, bathing, eating, and using the toilet.  They are the most basic and common daily tasks that most people are able to perform without any assistance. 

The IADLs, or Instrumental Activities of Daily Living are more complex tasks that will require a certain amount of organizational skills, physical dexterity, and sound judgment.  A person’s ability to live safely and independently usually corresponds to a senior’s ability (or inability) to adequately perform both groups of activities.

Before you begin a search for in-home private duty nursing,  you should become familiar with ALL of the activities of daily living.  Ability to perform both ADLs and IADLs become a baseline used in creating a plan of care for any in-home nursing care.  Senior care and senior housing providers use this data when creating service plans for assisted living and care plans used in nursing homes to determine levels of care and set costs for care. As a senior’s need for assistance increases, so does the number of services needed, which also raises the cost of the care (and often the coverage, depending on the senior’s insurance).

When factored together, both ADLs and IADLs are used to measure a senior’s functional abilities.











Basic Activities of Daily Living

Most senior care providers and health professionals group the activities of daily living into the following six categories:

  • Bathing: includes grooming activities such as shaving, and brushing teeth and hair
  • Dressing: choosing appropriate garments and being able to dress and undress, having no trouble with buttons, zippers or other fasteners
  • Eating: being able to feed oneself
  • Transferring: being able to walk, or, if not ambulatory, being able to transfer oneself from bed to wheelchair and back
  • Continence: being able to control one’s bowels and bladder, or manage one’s incontinence independently
  • Toileting: being able to use the toilet

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

The instrumental activities of daily living include the following:

  • Using the telephone: being able to dial numbers, look up numbers, etc.
  • Managing medications: taking the appropriate medications and correct dosages on time
  • Preparing meals: making appropriate food choices and preparing meals safely
  • Maintaining the home: doing or arranging for housekeeping and laundry
  • Managing finances: budgeting, paying mortgage/rent and bills on time, etc.
  • Shopping: being able to shop for groceries and other small necessities, and transport purchases from store to home
  • Using transportation: being able to drive or use public transportation for appointments, shopping, etc.

Once a senior’s functional abilities are assessed, the family and medical professionals can determine what kind of in-home care will be needed.  Once care is started, periodic assessments should be scheduled as they can be equally valuable, by showing patterns, predicting future needs and measuring either progress or decline.

When a plan of care is created, a quality provider of private duty nursing will carefully select a caregiver whose skill set will best match the needs of the client.  The caregiver will keep proper track of all activity and report any changes to the proper personnel.  

Be sure to ask the home health provider about other services including medication reminders and care management!





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