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Activities of daily living (ADLs) are "the things we normally do in daily living including any daily activity we perform for self-care (such as feeding ourselves, bathing, dressing, grooming), work, homemaking, and leisure." (1)

Health professionals routinely refer to the ability or inability to perform ADLs as a measurement of the functional status of a person.(2)  This measurement is useful for assessing the elderly, the mentally ill, those with chronic diseases, and others, in order to evaluate what type of health care services an individual may need. There are several evaluation tools, such as the Katz ADL scale and the Lawton IADL scale.

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 resident-centered models, such as the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).

In the US, most medical insurance policies will not cover assistance with performing ADLs, whereas such assistance is often covered by policies specific to Long-term care.

Basic ADLs

 The basic activities of daily living consist of these self-care tasks:(3)

Bathing * Dressing and undressing * Eating * Transferring from bed to chair, and back * Voluntarily control urinary and fecal discharge *  Using the toilet * Walking (not bedridden) 

Instrumental ADLs

 Instrumental activities of daily living are not necessary for fundamental functioning, but enable the individual to live independently within a community:(4)

Light housework * Preparing meals * Taking medications *  Shopping for groceries or clothes * Using the telephone *  Managing money

Occupational therapists also evaluate IADLs when completing patient assessments. These include 11 areas of IADLs that are generally optional in nature, and can be delegated to others:(5)

Care of others (including selecting and supervising caregivers) * Care of pets * Child rearing * Communication device use * Community mobility * Financial management * Health management and maintenance * Meal preparation and cleanup * Safety procedures and emergency responses * Shopping

References :

  1.  ^ MedicineNet.com Medical Dictionary

  2.  ^ "Activities of Daily Living Evaluation." Encyclopedia of Nursing & Allied Health. Ed. Kristine Krapp. Gale Group, Inc., 2002. eNotes.com. 2006.Enotes Nursing EncyclopediaAccessed on: 11 Oct, 2007

  3.  ^ McDowell, I., and Newell, C. (1996). Measuring Health: A Guide to Rating Scales and Questionnaires, 2nd edition. New York: Oxford University Press

  4.  ^ Bookman, A., Harrington, M., Pass, L., & Reisner, E. (2007). Family Caregiver Handbook. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

  5.  ^ Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain and process. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 56, 609-637


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