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Activities of Daily Living and How They Apply to Senior Living

A senior woman meets with a nurse in her assisted living apartment.

You may not often think about the activities of daily living (ADLs). However, these activities can require a little more attention when it comes to older adults. Performing daily tasks is an important component of living independently, whether at home or in a senior community.

While this list can sometimes vary, the most common ADLs for seniors usually comprise five basic categories:

  1. Personal hygiene – Bathing, showering, oral care, nail care, personal grooming
  2. Dressing – Being able to make weather-appropriate clothing choices and physically dress or undress without assistance.
  3. Eating – Purchasing food, meal preparation, feeding yourself
  4. Maintaining continence – Using a restroom without additional support
  5. Mobility – Getting in and out of bed, moving around independently, standing from a sitting position

Physicians and family members can measure the level of a senior’s independence by their ability to perform these five ADLs for seniors without additional support.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living For Seniors

While ADLs are a key measurement of independence, there are also instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). These IADLs aren’t essential for basic functioning, but can help a person live more easily on their own. Physicians need to assess how well an individual can manage IADLs since they are often more complex than baseline ADLs for seniors.

Some examples of IADLs for older adults include:

  • Housekeeping, laundry and other home care chores
  • Money management
  • Moving/changing residences
  • Shopping for necessities
  • Medication management
  • Using the telephone or computer

How ADL/IADL Assessments Are Used in Senior Care Communities

Through ADL and IADL assessments, caregivers and physicians can better determine if a senior can live safely and confidently on their own. The goal is to help an aging loved one enjoy the highest quality of life possible. It can also become easier to identify signs of deterioration or improvement through these assessments. Since senior living communities are designed to provide several living options, including independent living, assisted living and memory care, it’s important to assess an individual’s needs and abilities.

The types of assessments most often used include:

  • Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living – This assessment is designed to award points for each ADL a person can complete independently. The total number of points scored on this  evaluation can help determine how independent an older adult is and what level of care they may need.
  • Barthel ADL Index – This assessment includes all the basic activities of daily living and includes grooming and climbing stairs. It’s often used in acute-care settings to help determine any subtle changes in a person’s health or wellness.
  • Functional Independence Measure – This comprehensive assessment combines ADLs, IADLS, and other social domains. The higher the score, the more independent a person is at completing everyday tasks.

Physicians and family caregivers can work closely with senior living communities to help assess a loved one’s needs and decide on a proper level of care. Independent living apartments are typically reserved for individuals who score highly on ADL assessments and need little to no assistance. Assisted living is for individuals who need support with activities of daily living, and memory care is uniquely designed to cater to older adults in need of specialized memory support.

Learn More About Residential and Care Options at Monticello West

Monticello West is the perfect option for older adults looking for a senior living community that feels like home. Our senior living community is much more than four walls and a door. Our caring team of professionals makes Monticello West truly a place to call home. Many of our team members have been with us for more than five years, and their dedication and commitment to residents is evident in everything they do. It is also one of the main reasons our residents feel so at home.

Our Dallas senior living community offers independent living, as well as several residential and care options for those who need assisted living or memory care.

We invite you to learn more about our senior living community and schedule a visit to find out what sets us apart from other communities in and around Dallas, Texas. Contact us today.