Activities of Daily Living Assessment for Seniors

The Heritage of Green Hills | Senior woman and caregiver reading together

Measuring Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) can help determine if your loved one needs a higher level of care.

Caregiver helping an elderly woman

It can be difficult to know when your loved one is no longer able to live on their own. One way health care professionals determine if a senior needs care or can continue to live independently is through assessing their Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) and Activities of Daily Living (ADL). By knowing what to look for, you can determine the next steps for your loved one and figure out whether or not they need a Personal Care community.

An Instrumental Activities of Daily Living assessment evaluates activities like cooking, cleaning, managing finances and medications, and shopping. This assessment considers if the person is independent, needs help, is dependent on help or can’t perform at certain IADL at all.

A 2013 study by the journal BMC Geriatrics found that IADLs are the first area requiring outside support. The early IADL functions people lose are shopping and housework, followed by meal preparation, managing finances and managing medications. At this IADL stage, a family member, neighbor or an at-home health service can help your loved one manage their IADLs and stay at home.

An older couple and a nurse working on a puzzle

ADLs are daily personal care activities people do on a daily basis and are fundamental to self-care and maintaining independence: bathing, dressing, grooming, oral hygiene, toileting, transferring from bed/chair, walking, climbing stairs and eating. Like the IADL, the Activities of Daily Living assessment determines what level of help is needed. Because these activities happen several times a day, if a senior is unable to do things on an Activities of Daily Living list, 24-hour care is usually recommended.

Also noted in the BMC Geriatrics study, among the early ADL functions seniors lose is hygiene; the mid-loss functions are toilet use and movement, and the late-loss function is eating.

According to the not-for-profit Institute on Aging, physical limitations increase with age:

  • Among seniors 65-74, 13% of men and 19% of women reported being unable to perform at least one ADL
  • Among seniors 85+, 40% of men and 53% of women were unable to perform at least one ADL
  • In 2009, 25% of Medicare beneficiaries age 65+ reported difficulty with at least one ADL

Being aware of the signs can help you get a jump on finding the right fit for your loved one. If you have questions about your loved one’s ability to live at home, consult your family physician or another health care professional. To discuss your options, schedule an ADL assessment for your loved one or learn more about our personal care, fill out the Contact Us form on this page or call us at 484.577.3515.

You can also download our Activities of Daily Living Checklist.

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