Activities of Daily Living

Activities of Daily Living are a key indicator of an older person’s quality of life. In this article, we’ll define the term “Activities of Daily Living” and explain how it relates to nursing home abuse. 

Key Takeaways

  • Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) are key life tasks required to live independently
  • There are three types of ADLs: Basic Activities of Daily Living (BADLs), Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs), and Domestic Activities of Daily Living (DADLs)
  • Basic Activities of Daily Living (BADLs) are basic self-care tasks such as eating, dressing, and bathing
  • Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) are more complex self-care tasks such as grocery shopping, using phones, and transportation
  • Domestic Activities of Daily Living (DADLs) are tasks that improve quality of life such as hobbies and exercise
  • If a nursing home causes a decrease in a resident’s ADLs, it may indicate nursing home abuse
  • Nursing homes can be held legally liable for reducing a resident’s ADLs if they failed to assess the resident’s ADLs and make and monitor a care plan 

What Are Activities of Daily Living?

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) are a term used by professionals who work with older adults to refer to key life tasks that a person needs to do to be able to live at home independently. When an older person has challenges with ADLs, it may indicate that they need more help, supervision, and hands-on care. 

Activities of Daily Living can often be a determining factor in multiple things including: 

  • The cost of care at a facility
  • Whether someone is considered safe to live at home
  • Whether a person is eligible for certain long-term care services

Types of Activities of Daily Living

There are multiples categories of ADLs, including:

  • Basic Activities of Daily Living (BADLs) - Basic self-care tasks
  • Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) - Self-care tasks that require more complex thinking skills
  • Domestic Activities of Daily Living (DADLs) - Tasks that contribute to an individual’s quality of life 

Basic Activities of Daily Living

BADLs are the most basic self-care tasks that we learn as young children and that we usually perform in the morning to get ready for the day. These include:

  • Getting dressed
  • Eating
  • Walking
  • Climbing stairs
  • Safety and emergency responses
  • Toilet hygiene
  • Bathing or showering
  • Personal hygiene
  • Transferring, or being able to move from one body position to another such as getting into and out of a bed or chair

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

IADLs are the types of tasks that we typically learn as a teenager. These are not related to fundamental functioning but rather to the ability to live independently or take care of a spouse, partner, or child. These include:

  • Preparing meals
  • Transportation such as driving or taking public transport
  • Running errands
  • Going to appointments
  • Managing finances
  • Managing medication
  • Using technology such as the phone
  • Shopping
  • Getting groceries
  • Cleaning
  • Maintaining home

Domestic Activities of Daily Living

DADLs are often stopped when a person can no longer physically do them, but they are an important measure in a person’s quality of life. These include:

  • Hobbies requiring dexterity or fine motor skill such as playing a musical instrument or painting
  • Mental exercises such as puzzles
  • Care of pets
  • Care of others
  • Companionship and socialization
  • Physical exercise such as riding a bike or hiking
  • Activities in the community

Activities of Daily Living and Nursing Home Abuse Law

Nursing homes should be able to maintain a resident’s level of ADLs through assessment, care planning, and monitoring. If a facility causes a decrease in a resident’s ADLs and, therefore, quality of life, it can indicate nursing home abuse. The facility may be able to be held legally liable if it failed to do one of these things:

  • Make an accurate, personalized assessment of the resident
  • Create a care plan with interventions, goals, and objectives to reduce or eliminate the possibility that ADLs would decrease
  • Monitor the effectiveness of the care plan
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