What are the ADL and IADL?

“Don’t use it or you will lose it” is a common phrase we talk about in elder care. Yes, the ADL and IADL are ways of discovering, understanding and solving the elderly’s needs and wants. 

Most seniors want to be independent for as long as they can… Hence, knowing the ADL and IADL is an important thing for all who help the elderly, care for the elderly in any setting, and support the elderly in various ways. 

These were coined in the 1950s by Sidney Katz & team. They consist of some basic functionalities that a human is supposed to be capable of performing, and they are: 

ADL (Basic Activities of Daily Living): Bathing, Dressing, Toileting, Transferring, Fecal and urinary continence, Feeding

IADL (Instrumental Activities of Daily Living): Using the telephone, transportation, shopping, meal preparation, housework, and taking prescribed medications.

Why are they important?

  1. Assess the function of a senior or elderly or aging human being.
  2. Assess the upcoming needs, to help understand the trajectory of the elderly’s health.
  3. Assess the resources available to help the elderly age gracefully and with dignity.
  4. Assess the community (intimate family, carers) to make them aware of things that might have been overlooked. 
  5. Assess the medical history to see if anything is preventable, remediable, and made functional again.
  6. Assess the seniors themselves, to help them cope with understanding their limitations, support them in every way possible and improve their quality of life (QOL).
  7. Assess the security and safety of surroundings, activities, and living circumstances, in ways other than just psychological, like spiritual social, familial, monetary, emotional, and physical needs and wants and haves. 

ADL and IADL are extensions in some ways. For one depends on the other. It’s time to assess early, frequently, comprehensively, and extensively in order to make aging a thriving and enjoyable experience. 

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