As we age, we may slowly begin to experience troubles with what are known as the activities of daily living (ADLs). These issues can occur due to the natural aging process, or due to chronic illnesses or injury.
Evaluating our aging loved ones based on their ADLs is helpful for establishing the level of care they need. Loss of these fundamental skills can reduce quality of life and create safety issues in the home.
Learn about the ADLs, signs a loved one is experiencing troubles, and care options as their needs shift over time.
What are Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)?
ADLs include the fundamental skills required to independently care for ourselves. Identifying our loved one’s ADL performance gives us an indication of the level of care they need.
There are two types of ADLs: basic and instrumental.
Basic ADLs are basic physical needs, while instrumental ADLs are more complex activities such as finances and cooking.
Basic ADLs include the abilities to:
- Walk and move on your own
- Feed yourself
- Choose appropriate clothes and put them on
- Control bladder and bowels
- Bathe, brush teeth, and care for hair and nails
- Get to and from the toilet
Instrumental ADLs include the abilities to:
- Shop for groceries
- Use transportation
- Pay bills and manage finances
- Clean and maintain the home
- Take medications
- Communicate with others via phone, email, etc.
Difficulty with ADLs can occur in various ways. For example, your loved one may be able to choose clothing without trouble, but buttoning shirts or putting on shoes is difficult. In this case, purchasing different types of clothing and shoes that are easier to fasten can help.
Signs that a loved one is having troubles with activities of daily living
If your loved one still lives fairly independently, it may not be obvious that they are starting to experience trouble with ADLs. In this situation, your loved one is the best judge of their need for assistance.
Check in with your loved one regularly and ask how they are feeling. Observe them for any physical changes, such as:
- Trouble walking or appearing unsteady
- Changes in grooming and hygiene
- Condition of their home
At the same time, allow your loved one the space and control over their own lives. Understanding your loved one’s current health situation will help you identify reasons why their ADLs are changing.
If you notice any signs of struggle, gently bring it up and approach the topic respectfully.
When to reach out to a doctor
If you’re feeling concerned, encourage your loved one to see a doctor. You can evaluate your loved one on your own and bring up points of concern that you think a doctor will be able to help with.
These scales are helpful to bring to your loved one’s doctor, as well.
Issues with ADLs can be an indicator of issues with memory, Parkinson’s disease, or stroke, so it’s important to address them as soon as possible.
Care options when a loved one has trouble with ADLs
If your loved one is having trouble with their activities of daily living, there are many possible care options. These options depend on the individual level of care your loved one needs.
For example, if your loved one is only experiencing mild issues with walking or clothing themselves, you can make appropriate in-home adjustments or serve as their caregiver.
If their needs advance over time, you can consider independent or assisted living communities to support their needs.
The amount of care the in-home aide provides depends on the level of assistance your loved one needs, including help using the bathroom, bathing, dressing, grooming, or administering medications.
Types of home modifications for your loved one might include:
- Special clothing or shoes with Velcro closures, or grabbers to pull up socks
- Grab bars or bath chairs for the bathroom
- Motion-sensitive lights
- Meal services
- Rugs or grippers for hardwood floors
Family member as primary caregiver
If you’re able, you or another family member may begin providing in-home services or allow your loved one to live with you for 24-hour care.
Serving as a caregiver for your loved one can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to be aware of burnout when caregiving becomes too much physically or financially.
Family caregivers typically spend thousands of dollars a year to care for their loved ones, so it may make more sense to look into independent or assisted living communities where all their needs are included in the cost.
Independent or assisted living
- Independent living is designed for seniors who are able to live on their own. It provides freedom from the difficulties of owning and maintaining a home.
- Assisted living includes a team of dedicated health care professionals who provide 24-hour support and a full spectrum of services.
- Memory care is a specialized care setting with a team dedicated to providing support and care for individuals in various stages of memory loss.
What Kensington Park Senior Living can provide to your family
With Kensington Park Senior Living’s wide range of care options, residents truly can “age in place” in a safe, cozy community.
From independent living to advanced and end-of-life care, residents are free to enjoy their lives free of home maintenance, cleaning, and cooking — unless they enjoy cooking, of course.
Our Promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own, which means our loving staff goes above and beyond to ensure the safety and comfort of your loved ones.
Contact us today to learn more about our specialized services, and all the ways we support caregivers who are seeking to transition their loved one to a community setting.