Activities of daily living

Activities of daily living


Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) is a term used in healthcare to refer to daily self-care activities within an individual's place of residence, in outdoor environments, or both. Health professionals routinely refer to the ability or inability to perform ADLs as a measurement of the functional status of a person, particularly in regards to people with disabilities and the elderly.[1]

ADLs are defined as "the things we normally do...such as feeding ourselves, bathing, dressing, grooming, work, homemaking, and leisure."[2] A number of national surveys collect data on the ADL status of the U.S. population.[3] While basic categories of ADLs have been suggested, what specifically constitutes a particular ADL in a particular environment for a particular person may vary.

Basic ADLs

Basic ADLs (BADLs) consist of self-care tasks, including:[4]

  • Personal hygiene and grooming
  • Dressing and undressing
  • Self feeding
  • Functional transfers (Getting from bed to wheelchair, getting onto or off of toilet, etc.)
  • Bowel and bladder management
  • Ambulation (Walking without use of use of an assistive device (walker, cane, or crutches) or using a wheelchair)

Instrumental ADLs

Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) are not necessary for fundamental functioning, but they let an individual live independently in a community:[5]

  • Housework
  • Taking medications as prescribed
  • Managing money
  • Shopping for groceries or clothing
  • Use of telephone or other form of communication
  • Using technology (as applicable)
  • Transportation within the community

Occupational therapists often evaluate IADLs when completing patient assessments. Assessments may include 11 types of IADLs that are generally optional in nature and can be delegated to others:[6]

  • Care of others (including selecting and supervising caregivers)
  • Care of pets
  • Child rearing
  • Use of communication devices
  • Community mobility
  • Financial management
  • Health management and maintenance
  • Meal preparation and cleanup
  • Safety procedures and emergency responses

Evaluation of ADLs

There are several evaluation tools, such as the Katz ADL scale[7] and the Lawton IADL scale.[8]

Most models of health care service use ADL evaluations in their practice, including the medical (or institutional) models, such as the Roper-Logan-Tierney model of nursing, and the resident-centered models, such as the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).

See also


  1. ^ "Activities of Daily Living Evaluation." Encyclopedia of Nursing & Allied Health. ed. Kristine Krapp. Gale Group, Inc., 2002. 2006.Enotes Nursing Encyclopedia Accessed on: 11 Oct, 2007
  2. ^ Medical Dictionary
  3. ^ National Center for Health Statistics
  4. ^ McDowell, I., and Newell, C. (1996). Measuring Health: A Guide to Rating Scales and Questionnaires, 2nd edition. New York: Oxford University Press
  5. ^ Bookman, A., Harrington, M., Pass, L., & Reisner, E. (2007). Family Caregiver Handbook. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  6. ^ "Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain and process." American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 56, 609-637
  7. ^ Katz ADL scale
  8. ^ Lawton IADL scale

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