ADLs and IADLs: What is the Difference?

Caregivers for the elderly often find themselves drowning in acronyms. There are acronyms for diseases and conditions, like COPD; for classes of medications, like NSAIDs, and for types of care, like LTC. And the list goes on and on. Two acronyms that affect the type of care your loved one can get — and who will pay for it — are ADL and IADL.

What are ADLs?

The term ADL stands for Activities of Daily Living. They refer to the person’s ability to take basic care of themselves.

The six basic ADLs include:

  1. Personal grooming. This includes brushing teeth, combing hair, and shaving. This is usually the first ADL a senior will lose.
  2. This includes bathing and showering independently, as well as washing one’s face.
  3. This ADL not only includes the ability to dress and undress oneself, but also the ability to choose appropriate clothing to wear.
  4. This includes being able to get to the toilet on time, to clean oneself, and to get up from the toilet.
  5. This broad ADL category includes the ability to walk, as well as the ability to get into and out of a chair or a bed. A person who is wheelchair-bound is not necessarily immobile. In such a case, mobility refers to the ability to transfer oneself in and out of the wheelchair.
  6. This involves the ability to feed oneself. This is usually the last ADL to be lost in an elderly person.

What are IALDs?

IADL stands for Instrumental Activities of Daily Living. IADLs are the more sophisticated tasks required for independent living. While ADLs are basic self-care, IADLs require higher-level thinking skills, such as organization.

Occasionally, one will see ADLs and IADLs assessed together. Even if this is the case, the implications are different for those who are unable to perform ADLs than for those who are incapable of IADLs.

Note that not all IADLs need to be accomplished independently. Some, including housecleaning, can be delegated to others. The essential point of an IADL is that the person is able to assure that the task is done properly.

IADLs include:

  1. Money management. This includes paying bills and making responsible decisions regarding money. For example, someone who has difficulty with the IADL of money management is more likely to be taken advantage of financially, for example, by falling for a scam.
  2. Meal preparation. This includes shopping for and preparing appropriate meals.
  3. Home maintenance. This includes keeping up the home, as well as keeping living areas clean, and doing laundry.
  4. While mobility is an ADL, and refers to the person’s ability to move themselves around the house, the IADL of transportation refers to the ability to drive or use other means of transportation, such as buses, outside the home.
  5. This refers to the ability to use the telephone, as well as other modes of communication such as the US mail.
  6. Medication management. This extremely important IADL involves the ability to assure that all required medications are on hand, and to be able to take them as directed.

Click here for a checklist of ADLs and IADLs.

If your loved one has difficulty with ADLs or IADLs, they may be eligible for assistance through Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance. However, the guidelines are complex. They include the age of the patient, whether they are recovering from surgery, and whether they are expected to make any progress.

If you need help negotiating the complex eldercare maze, contact Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers. We can help you get the best care for your loved one.

We offer the very best of care in a patient-centered environment. This means always listening to our residents and patients and respecting their capabilities, while helping them to achieve maximum functionality and independence. And always maintaining the highest professional and quality standards in our staff and our facilities. Our 25 years of excellent care have led to us being awarded a Best Nursing Homes award by US News & World Today, a 5-Star rating by USA Today, and an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, among many other awards.

Contact us by clicking here to see which of our three facilities will best meet your needs or the needs of your loved one.

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