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Activities of Daily Living and How They Apply to Senior Living

A senior woman sips on tea and looks at a notebook with her nurse.

Most of the time, people don’t think about the activities of daily living (ADLs) – they just do them. For seniors, however, the activities of daily living can require more attention. For seniors to maintain their independence, whether at home or in a senior living community, they must be able to perform these basic tasks without much effort.

While this list can vary, the most common ADLs for seniors are typically broken down into 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

An older adult’s level of independence can be measured by their ability to perform these five ADLs for seniors on their own.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living For Seniors

While the activities of daily living (ADLs) for seniors are a primary measurement of senior independence, there are also instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). While IADLs aren’t essential for basic functioning, they can help seniors live a higher quality of life independently. Physicians will typically assess IADLs since they are more complex than the baseline ADLs.

Some examples of IADLs for seniors 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

Physicians, caregivers, and senior living communities can use ADL and IADL assessments to measure a senior’s level of independence. Since the goal is always to help a senior maintain the highest quality of life, these assessments can help identify any signs of deterioration or improvement.

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 assessment 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.

Since many senior living communities provide several living options, including independent living, assisted living and memory care, each individual’s needs must be assessed. Typically, independent living is designed for seniors who need little to no assistance, assisted living is for individuals who need support with activities of daily living, and memory care is uniquely targeted to those who need specialized memory support.

Learn More About Residential and Care Options at Signature Pointe

Signature Pointe is a Life Plan Community offering vibrant senior living options and care services in North Dallas. Whether you’re seeking an active, independent lifestyle in a spacious apartment or need a little help with daily activities provided through assisted living, we can help. If you are a caregiver for a loved one that requires personalized memory care, skilled nursing or short-term rehabilitation, you’ll find the senior living services you need here, all under one roof.

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