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Understanding the Difference Between ADL & IADL in Assisted Living?

Understanding the Difference Between ADL & IADL in Assisted Living?

There are two distinct classifications that help caregivers and physicians evaluate the independence of seniors.

These classifications often get confused. 

There are some key differences between the Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL).

ADL and IADL are both incorporated into the residential assisted living setting.

In order to provide the best care possible, it is important to understand the capacity of daily living skills a senior is able to accomplish.

ADL engages a person’s fundamental functioning skills. This includes abilities typically needed to manage basic physical needs.

Examples of these needs range from bathing to self-feeding and much more.

6 Essential Activities of Daily Living Skills: 

  1. Bathing and/or Showering: Independently completing hygiene tasks or requiring assistance with only one area of the body. This one area could include hair, nails, skin or oral care. 
  2. Continence: Having complete control of bowel movements and the ability to maintain one’s bladder.
  3. Dressing: Selecting appropriate clothes, underwear, and outerwear, and putting them on independently, including fasteners and zippers.
  4. Functional Mobility: Walking or moving about from one place to another, especially transferring locations from beds and chairs to wheelchairs and walkers. 
  5. Self-feeding:  With the exception of meal preparation, moving food from plate-to-mouth or having the ability to chew and swallow.
  6. Toileting: Possessing the ability to get on and off the toilet, and cleaning oneself properly afterward. 

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) are far more complex.

Some seniors have special abilities to complete complex tasks despite the aging process.

Transitioning to an assisted living home is not always because seniors need assistance.

Some seniors simply do not want to live alone; they desire the companionship of peers. Others have children who feel safer with mom and dad in assisted living homes.  

Regardless of the many reasons seniors find themselves in RAL homes, their residence doesn’t automatically disqualify them from performing instrumental activities. 

IADL are usually required for independent living, but they can also be useful to some degree in assisted living settings. 

Most seniors in assisted living homes will not be able to perform IADL skills, but it is important to know their capabilities. 

Residential assisted living environments use these special abilities to increase morale and engage high functioning residents.

Understanding IADL will enable caregivers to encourage residents to live the most independent life possible, which also helps with physical health and memory care.

Keeping track of the special abilities of each resident lends seniors an added sense of purpose. 

8 Special Abilities of Instrumental Activities of Daily Living: 

  1. Cleaning and Housekeeping: The ability to routinely complete household chores and basic home maintenance like changing bulbs and disposing of trash.
  2. Laundry: The ability to wash, dry and fold or hang clothes.
  3. Money Management: The ability to balance a checkbook and keep track of income and expenses. 
  4. Medication Management: The ability to routinely take prescribed medications.
  5. Meal Preparation: The ability to shop, prepare and cook healthy meals.
  6. Shopping: The ability to shop for groceries and other personal necessities.
  7. Transportation: The ability to drive or secure adequate transportation services to various locations, including relocating residences.
  8. Using Communication Devices: The ability to use a computer. cellular telephone, or other digital means of interaction.

While most seniors in assisted living are not going to be responsible for IADL, always find ways to utilize the skills of those that do.

Allow seniors to participate whenever possible.

The more activities residents accomplish, the greater the sense of independence and purpose. 

In RAL homes, seniors are not going to prepare meals or do laundry, but they can help with those activities.

Something as simple as measuring and mixing ingredients or folding towels are beneficial activities for aging adults.

These may seem like super small tasks, but to a person with limited mobility, they build confidence, independence, and self-esteem.

Remember, the purpose is all about perspective. 

Gaining New and Innovative Ways of Operating Your RAL Home 

Learn more ways to provide quality care for seniors by contacting

Elderly people need and want caregivers who understand the difference between ADL and IADL in Assisted Living.

RAL Academy provides up to date information on how to cater to their needs. 

There are also financial benefits for business owners who provide the highest quality of care.

The 3-day RAL training courses teach professionals everything from A-Z about owning and operating your own assisted living home.

Afterward, newsletters, blogs, and other resources are also available to students.

Contact RAL Academy today to meet the high demand for senior housing and build a business that will allow you to “do good and do well”.

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