The Instrumental Activities Of Daily Living, or ADL’s, are self-care activities everyone must perform to lead a normal, independent life. Here’s a handy checklist of daily activities for you to refer to. When deciding whether or not your loved-one needs assistance (be it an in-home health aide, or moving into an assisted living facility) we recommend you assess their ability to perform the following 6 ADL’s:
Eating: Can your loved-one feed themselves? Please note that this ADL refers to feeding themselves specifically; if your loved-one cannot prepare meals but can still feed themselves then they pass this ADL. Common eating complications are a physical inability to swallow, difficulty chewing food, and trouble moving food from the plate to the mouth.
Bathing & Hygiene: When you visit, is your loved-one clean? Do they bathe themselves on a regular basis? Do they maintain good dental hygiene? Notable queues that your loved one cannot maintain healthy hygiene practices are greasy skin, unkempt hair, long and dirty fingernails, or a foul body odor.
Dressing: Can your loved one physically dress themselves? If so, have they retained the ability to make acceptable clothing decisions? Due to a limited range of mobility, your loved-one may experience a particular difficulty with dressing their lower region (such as socks, underwear, and pants) or their upper region (such as shirts and coats). Your loved-one may also experience pain when straining for lower-extremity or upper-extremity dressing. Dramatically mismatched outfits, inappropriate clothing choices (such as nightgowns or pajamas in public), or wearing underwear overtop clothes, are also signs your loved-one can no longer dress themselves.
Grooming: Does your loved-one comb their hair? Does your loved-one keep their toenails and fingernails filed and tidy? Is their makeup properly applied (and properly removed), or is their facial hair properly maintained?
Mobility: Mobility is often judged on whether or not your loved one can move around without the assistance of a walker, wheelchair, or cane. Mobility also applies to your loved-one’s ability to successfully get out of bed, get onto and off-of the toilet, ascend and descend stairs, as well as sitting and rising from the couch or other furniture.
Toileting & Continence: This category considers both bowel and bladder management. Can your loved-one successfully use the restroom without assistance? Are they physically capable?
Why Use Instrumental Activities Of Daily Living When Assessing Your Loved-One’s Needs?
The six instrumental Activities of Daily Living that we’ve listed are the most basic activities that a person must perform on a daily basis. When your loved-one loses the ability to perform one or more of these activities they will experience a sharp decline in quality of life. Do not leave your loved-one stranded in bed, starved, or vulnerable to infections because of poor hygiene. Your loved-one should not be left alone to struggle with basic necessities–preserve their dignity, and their quality of life, by pursuing help.
The six ADL’s establish a very real idea of the obstacles your loved-one is facing. These ADL’s are such an accurate determiner of necessary living assistance that they are used by a variety of organizations to judge needed services. State non-Medicaid programs recognize the inability to perform two to three ADL’s as eligibility for assistance. Long-term Care Insurance may use the inability to perform ADL’s as an indicator to pay-out on a policy. Even Medicare PACE Programs that provide elderly care use ADL’s as a determining factor.
What To Do If You Notice Your Loved-One’s Condition Declining
If your loved-one is having difficulty with one or more ADL then it is time to think about pursuing assistance. Depending on the extent of their inability, you may need to provide in-home care assistance or you may need to move them to an assisted living facility.