Raise your hand if you’ve heard the term Activities of Daily Living, otherwise known as ADLs!
Now, raise your hand if you’ve heard of term Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, also known as IADLs!
Your hand is probably down. And that’s okay! At the end of this episode you are gonna be raising your hands high!
In today's episode, I’m going to walk you through Activities of Daily Living, which I’ll call ADLs and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, which I’ll call IADLs! And, I’ll also explain why it’s so important that you know what they are!
ADLs are basic life tasks that we learn when we are children and generally maintain independence with for most of our lives. They include:
As we think about each of these basic tasks, we think about how independent a person is with each of them. For example:
These are more complex tasks that require judgment and reasoning skills. These are often required for independent living! They include:
Just like with ADLs, as we think about IADLs, we want to know how independent a person is with each of these tasks. Like:
1. Helps You To Communicate With Providers
First of all, when you meet with medical and mental health providers, they'll ask you at what level your loved one needs care with each of the tasks mentioned above, so it's important for you to be paying attention to, and have a sense of, how much assistance your aging parent needs for each of these tasks.
2. Helps Providers to Clarify Diagnoses
ADLs and IADLs offer one piece of a large puzzle that clinicians look at to assist with diagnoses and to make recommendations. For example, When I’m asking about ADLs and IADLs, I am also asking WHY the person is having trouble? Is it a physical issue? a motivational issue? A cognitive issue? Knowing the reason WHY the person is having trouble helps me to clarify my diagnosis and make helpful recommendations.
3. Helps To Determine Recommendations for In Home Assistance and/or Senior Housing Recommendations
Being clear about a person’s ADLs and IADLs helps to determine what type of assistance they may need in their home if they plan to age in place, like do they only need help with meals at this time? Or do they need help with bathing and grooming? Or, are they in need of 24/7 supervision? On the other hand, if they plan to move to a senior living community, it helps to determine what level of care they may need. For example: Is independent living the best option? Assisted living? Memory care? Skilled nursing? You get the idea.
4. Helps Clinicians and Family Members Track Changes & Identify Next Steps
Having a sense of ADLs and IADLs helps clinicians and family members to anticipate changes and identify next steps in a disease process. It helps us to understand if the older adult is declining.
5. Helps You to Identify YOUR OWN NEEDS with caregiving!
Knowing ADLs and IADLs will help you as a caregiver to have a sense of when YOU will need more support in caregiving. Let me explain, we know that the more assistance an older adult needs with ADLs (the basic tasks like toileting, bathing, and transferring) the greater the physical toll on the caregiver and the more support you are going to need.
I hope this blog and video were helpful in explaining ADLs, IADLS, and why they are so darn important!
Lots of love to you and your family!
Dr. Regina Koepp
I'm a Stanford trained, Board Certified Clinical Psychologist specializing with older adults and families! I'm an Assistant Professor at Emory University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, and a staff Psychologist working with older adults and families at the Atlanta VA Health Care System. I'm a mom of two little kids and a daughter to aging parents.
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