ADLs: What Are They, and How Can Assisted Living Help Your Parent?

Caregiver supporting assisted living resident

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Maintaining independence is of high importance to most older adults, whether they’re living at home or in a retirement community. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize when your aging parent just needs a little help around the house or the comprehensive support an assisted living community provides. If your parent reaches a point where they need help with one or more everyday tasks known as activities of daily living (ADLs), it may be time to have a conversation about planning for the future and making sure they have the help they need in a safe and supportive setting.  

What Are ADLs

Caregiver helping senior woman with walker

Activities of daily living (ADLs) are tasks performed on a daily basis that are essential to independent living. Although there is some variation in the definition of ADLs, these five categories are universally recognized:

  • Personal hygiene: Bathing/showering, grooming, nail care and oral care
  • Dressing: Selecting appropriate clothing and getting dressed and undressed, including fastening buttons and zippers.
  • Eating: Feeding oneself with a fork and other utensils and drink from a glass or cup
  • Transferring/mobility: Walking independently or with a cane or walker inside and outside of one’s home,  standing up from a sitting position, and getting in and out of bed
  • Toileting: Managing continence-related tasks including bladder/bowel control, getting to and from the toilet, and cleaning oneself

What Are IADLs?

Caregiver helping senior woman with grocery shopping

Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) are tasks that require complex thinking and organizational skills. These may not be performed every day like ADLs, but they’re important  for independent living:

  • Communication: Using technology and managing communication via a phone, computer or mail
  • Transportation: Coordinating transportation, either by driving or arranging a ride
  • Meal preparation: Planning for meals, buying groceries, and meal preparation and cleanup 
  • Shopping: Buying essentials, such as clothing, toiletries and other household items
  • Housework: Doing laundry and keeping a tidy living space
  • Medication management: Taking medications as directed and managing prescriptions and refills at the pharmacy
  • Personal finances: Managing money, paying bills on time, and operating within a budget

Recognizing When Help Is Needed

When your parent is having trouble with ADLs or IADLs, your first instinct may be to try to step in and help — whether that’s by cleaning, shopping, cooking or driving. However, it’s important to be realistic about how much help they need, and how much help you can offer as the situation evolves. Learn more about recognizing the signs your parent needs assisted living and what you can do to help.

Caregiver helping senior living resident with housework

In many cases, a health condition may further affect a person’s physical abilities or cognitive functioning, and they may need an increasing level of assistance with everyday tasks like bathing, getting dressed, and toileting. A decline in a person’s ability to complete ADLs or IADLs independently may indicate the need for personal care assistance, lifestyle support, or activity assistance. An ADL assessment provides an essential view into how seniors function on their own, so they can remain independent longer and access the right amount of help when they need it.

Your parent’s doctor can answer questions about underlying health problems that may be contributing to a decline in physical or cognitive functioning. Diagnosing and managing health problems helps ensure your loved one has the support they need to compensate for functional difficulties. 

How Assisted Living Can Help Your Parent with Activities of Daily Living

An assisted living community offers a wide range of care options and staff on-site 24/7 to assist with ADLs. The level of care can be easily adjusted or increased as needed, allowing family members to focus on spending time with their loved one rather than acting as caregivers. Having the right level of support helps seniors stay independent and restore confidence, so they can worry less and enjoy life more. 

The Ridge Senior Living provides quality care in an assisted living community where your parent can engage in life the way they want to, without obstacles keeping them from doing what they want. Contact us to learn more about our personalized approach to assisted living and gain insights on how to talk to your parent about next steps.