Caregivers for the elderly often find themselves immersed in a world of acronyms. There are acronyms for diseases and conditions, for classes of medications, for types of care. And the list goes on. Two acronyms that affect the type of care your loved one can get — and who will pay for it — are ADL and IADL.
What are ADLs?
ADL stands for Activities of Daily Living. There are six basic ADLs, which refer to the person’s ability to take basic care of themselves.
- Personal grooming. This includes brushing teeth, combing hair, and shaving. This is usually the first ADL a senior will lose.
- This includes bathing and showering independently, and washing one’s face.
- This involves not only the ability to dress and undress oneself, but also the ability to choose appropriate clothing to wear.
- This includes getting to the toilet on time, cleaning oneself, and getting up from the toilet.
- This is a broad category which includes the ability to walk and to get in and out of a chair or a bed. A person who is wheelchair-bound is not necessarily immobile. In such a case, mobility refers to the ability to transfer oneself in and out of the wheelchair.
- This involves the ability to feed oneself. This is usually the last ADL to be lost in an elderly person.
What are IALDs?
IADL stands for Instrumental Activities of Daily Living. IADLs are the more sophisticated tasks associated with independent living. While ADLs are basic self-care, IADLs require higher-level thinking skills, including organization.
Occasionally, one will see ADLs and IADLs assessed together. Even if this is the case, the implications are different for those who are unable to perform ADLs than those who are incapable of IADLs.
Note that not all IADLs need to be accomplished independently. Some, including housecleaning, can be delegated to others. The essential point of an IADL is that the person is able to assure that all these tasks are done effectively.
- Money management. This includes paying bills and making responsible decisions regarding money. For example, someone who has difficulty with the IADL of money management is more likely to fall for a scam, or otherwise be taken advantage of financially.
- Meal preparation. This includes shopping for and preparing appropriate meals.
- Home maintenance. This includes upkeep of the home, as well as keeping living areas clean, and doing laundry.
- While mobility is an ADL, and refers to the person’s ability to move themselves around the house, the IADL of transportation refers to the ability to drive or use other means of transportation outside the home.
- This refers to the ability to use the telephone, as well as other modes of communication such as the mail service and a computer (for those who have always been tech-savvy).
- Medication management. This includes being able to have all required medications on hand, as well as being able to take them as directed.
If your loved one has difficulty with ADLs or IADLs, they may be eligible for assistance through Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance. However, the guidelines are complex, and include the age of the patient, whether they are recovering from surgery, and whether they are expected to make any progress in improving their ADLs.
Click here for a checklist of ADLs and IADLs.