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Learn about activities of daily living (ADLs), a term used to describe basic self-care tasks that individuals need to be able to perform to live independently.

Patient Safety

What Are Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)?

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How do doctors and health care providers assess whether a patient needs furniture like a hospital bed at home? One way is by looking at whether the patient can perform what are called activities of daily living, or ADLs. What are activities of daily living, and how do they impact eldercare? Read more to discover, What Are Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

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All of our articles are written by a professional medical writer and edited for accuracy by a hospital bed expert. SonderCare is a Hospital Bed company with locations across the U.S. and Canada. We distribute, install and service our certified home hospital beds across North America. Our staff is made up of several hospital bed experts that have worked in the medical equipment industry for more than 20 years. Read more about our company here.

Table of Contents

Learn About Activities For Daily Living and Self-Care

What Are Activities of Daily Living?

Activities of daily living are fundamental skills required to independently care for oneself. Healthcare professionals will perform functional assessments of basic activities like eating, bathing, and walking, as well as more complex factors like cognitive function. The ability or inability to perform ADLs can indicate a person’s functional status; when someone cannot get their balance to walk, for example, they will depend upon a mobility device for daily activities.

Most professionals split ADLs into two broad categories – basic ADLs (BADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs):

  • BADLs are skills necessary for managing one’s basic physical needs. They include ambulation (an individual’s ability to move from one position to another and walk independently), feeding, dressing, personal care and hygiene (bathing, dental cleaning, nail, and hair care), continence, and toileting (whether they can get to and from the toilet, use it, and clean themselves).
  • IADLs measure more complex activities related to living independently in the community. They include managing finances and medications, organizational skills, food preparation, and housekeeping.

Measuring one’s performance of ADLs is essential for healthcare systems in the United States and Canada. They can determine the level of assistance a person receives and what financial and medical services and programs they will be able to access.

Why Are ADLs Important In Healthcare?

ADLs can help medical professionals determine their status, appropriate treatment plan, and how to intervene for their safety. They are common predictors of admission to nursing homes, need for alternative living arrangements, hospitalization, and use of paid home care. Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicaid Advantage, other state and provincial government programs, and private insurance coverage will often require elderly participants to receive these assessments to cover services such as nursing home care. Reviewing the performance of ADLs over time can measure the success of treatment programs.

One’s inability to perform the ADLs and IADLs doesn’t just determine the level of assistance required. It is also a metric for many services and programs related to eldercare and support for people with disabilities. When someone can no longer perform the essential activities of daily living, they may find themselves in unsafe conditions and poor quality of life.

It’s important to note that ADLs are not purely negative assessments; if a senior cannot perform one ADL on the list, it’s not an automatic sentence to a long-term care setting. Identifying functional difficulties through these assessments helps older adults get the support they need to compensate for these difficulties. They can even help adults find financial support for the in-home care equipment they need.

ADL Assessments Can Be A Good Way To Determine If A Patient Needs A Hospital Bed

When older adults can manage certain BADLs and IADLs, they can safely live independently without the assistance of another person. However, they can receive help in accomplishing ADLs by changing out conventional furniture for more specialized models designed for medical problems, including hospital beds.

For example, when an ADL assessment finds that a senior has issues with ambulation but can support themselves otherwise, they might need to bring in a hospital bed. This care bed’s adjustable functions and hi-lo elevation make it more supportive than a conventional bed. These features provide more comfort and support for seniors while helping their caregivers deliver higher-quality care.

Hospital beds can help families of those who cannot perform activities of daily living, too. Cognitive decline, chronic health issues, and mobility problems can mean a person becomes unable to accomplish a wide range of BADLs and IADLs. Family members might step up to provide the essential care to raise their quality of life, including adding a hospital bed to an accessible part of the home to make this care easier to manage.

SonderCare helps seniors, family caregivers, and anyone else who might require in-home medical care by providing comfortable, stylish hospital beds and accessible furniture. Our premium hospital beds, luxury lift chairs, lightweight walkers, and other homecare equipment can help patients overcome physical obstacles and enjoy life in their homes.

Frequently Asked Questions ADLs for Patient Safety

The term “activities of daily living” (ADLs) refers to basic self-care tasks that individuals need to be able to perform in order to live independently. There are generally six ADLs that are recognized and used to assess an individual’s level of independence and need for assistance. These ADLs are: Bathing, Dressing, Toileting, Transferring (e.g. moving from a bed to a chair), Continence (i.e. being able to control bowel and bladder functions), Feeding. There are additional self-care tasks that are commonly referred to as instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). These tasks are typically more complex and may include tasks such as: Managing finances, Shopping for groceries and other necessities, Using the phone, Transportation (e.g. driving or using public transportation), Medication management, Housekeeping and home maintenance

Individuals’ levels of independence and need for assistance can be assessed by examining their activities of daily living (ADLs). The activities of daily living are the basic self-care tasks that individuals must be able to perform in order to live independently. Healthcare providers and other professionals use ADLs as a measure of functional status to determine the level of support and assistance an individual may need. Treatment plans can be informed by ADL assessments, identified areas where the individual may need additional support, and determined eligibility for certain programs or services, such as home health care or long-term care. Some nursing homes and assisted living units use ADLs as criteria to determine whether an individual is able to live independently or if they require higher levels of care.

Start Exploring Patient Safety With SonderCare

Are you recently discharged from hospital, experiencing mobility issues, or in need of palliative or senior care? Enjoy a smoother recovery and get the luxury you deserve by choosing our home hospital products. Contact us today to discuss home hospital beds, mattresses, stand assist chairs and other accessories to make your home hospice perfect for a truly comfortable experience.

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