Senior Care Terms to Know: ADL and IADL

Assisted Living Navigator's Blog

Activities of Daily Living: What Are ADLs and IADLs?

By Leslie Kernisan, M.D., senior medical editor, and Paula Spencer Scott, senior editor

Activities of daily living (ADLs) are basic self-care tasks, akin to the kinds of skills that people usually learn in early childhood. They include the following:

  • Feeding
  • Toileting
  • Selecting proper attire
  • Grooming
  • Maintaining continence
  • Putting on clothes
  • Bathing
  • Walking and transferring (such as moving from bed to wheelchair)

ADLs are often mentioned by geriatric-care professionals in connection with instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs; see below), which are slightly more complex skills.

What are instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs)?

Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) are the complex skills needed to successfully live independently. These skills are usually learned during the teenage years and include the following:

  • Managing finances
  • Handling transportation (driving or navigating public transit)
  • Shopping
  • Preparing meals
  • Using the telephone and other communication…

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