If you are considering in-home care for your loved one, you may have heard the acronyms ADL and IADL. Both of these terms refer to activities of daily living. However, functional tasks are separated into two basic parts: activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs.) Activities of daily living consist of activities that people perform on a day-to-day basis, such as bathing, dressing, and eating. Instrumental activities of daily living consist of activities that people do once they are up and ready for the day.
What IADLs Include
Measuring a person’s ability to perform instrumental activities of daily living can help family members determine how well their aging loved ones can live on their own. While ADLs focus on more basic self-care tasks like personal hygiene, IADLs require more extensive thinking and planning skills. Adults who are able to perform IADLs on their own or with assistance are able to live independently in their home for a longer period of time. Instrumental activities of daily living are generally separated into eight primary categories, including:
· Dressing and laundry
· Meal preparation
· Housekeeping activities
· Ability to use the telephone
· Shopping and running errands
· Ability to manage finances
· Medication management
Many times aging and chronic health problems can make it difficult to perform normal tasks. You might not notice that your loved one is having difficulty performing IADLs, but a thorough evaluation can typically cue you in on the person’s level of independence. If you have a loved one that is having trouble caring for him or herself, it may be time to seek outside help. For elderly individuals who want to remain in their home as long as possible, there are professional in-home care services available.
Join your loved one at their next routine health checkup and ask the doctor about IADLs. A health checkup performed in a doctor’s office, in the hospital, or even at home can help you determine if your loved one has any health problems that could make it challenging or unsafe for him or her to live independently and without help. The doctor may ask your loved one a series of questions to determine the person’s level of independence, such as: “How do you get to the store?” or “Do you pay your own bills or go to the bank on your own?”
There are many signs that family members can look for that may indicate that their aging loved ones require the help of an in-home care agency. First, look at their weight and nutrition. Is there spoiled food in the fridge or a stocked pantry that has not been touched? This may indicate that your loved one is unable to properly cook or prepare meals. In some instances, an aging individual may choose canned foods or frozen food dinners over fresh fruits and vegetables due to the inability to make more nutritious meals. Also look for signs of limited mobility, such as difficulty going up and down stairs. Poor balance and weakness may be evident by looking at the state of the home.
ADLs vs. IADLs
Difficulties performing ADLs and IADLs often relate to how much supervision and hands-on care an elderly person needs to maintain health and wellbeing. One of the most difficult parts of growing old is the inability to do important tasks with ease. Due to denial or other emotions, many aging adults try to hide their weaknesses from their families. It is important to understand that asking for help does not mean the person is powerless, but that they simply need some assistance with day-to-day living tasks.
Activities of daily living generally involve tasks that need to be performed regularly for the comfort of the patient. Personal hygiene is one of the most important ADLs and may include wearing clean clothes, brushing teeth and hair, and overall looking put-together. ADLs also include toileting and bathing. Slips and falls are highly common in bathrooms due to slippery conditions. Having someone assist your loved one can reduce the risk of injuries. ADLs also include mobility issues, such as getting in and out of bed and walking to the bathroom. Due to a lack of mobility and strength, older individuals may also have difficulty feeding themselves.
Instrumental activities of daily living do not directly involve personal activities, but include tasks that are instrumental to a person’s life. Meal preparation is an IADL that is very important to an elderly person’s health. Older adults who rely on takeout, delivery, or processed foods often suffer more health problems than adults who maintain a well-balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and veggies. With the help of an in-home care agency, your loved one will have assistance buying and preparing healthy meals and snacks.
Housekeeping is another important IADL can have a direct effect on the safety and health of an elderly person. If a home is unhygienic or contains lots of clutter, then the aging adult is at risk for developing certain types of infections or experiencing injuries due to falls. An in-home care professional can help ensure that the home remains safe and clean. Transportation is another major IADL that many older individuals have trouble with. Even simple trips to the doctor or grocery store can be difficult due to mobility and balance issues. An in-home care professional can ensure that the patient goes where he or she needs to go by making safe travel arrangements.
Contact an In-Home Care Agency
If you have recently spent time researching senior care, you have likely encountered the acronyms ADL or IADL. By understanding what these terms mean and what tasks they include, you can better determine the unique needs of your aging loved one. If you find that an elderly adult in your life requires assistance in their home, you may want to consider in-home care services. For more information about instrumental activities of daily living or to speak with an in-home care representative, contact an in-home care agency today.