Is This Dementia? Activities of Daily Living

Does she have a dementia?

Every day, we all take part in activities that we do routinely, often without much thought or planning. We complete work tasks, take part in hobbies and social events, cook and clean, and care for ourselves.

When an individual is not able to independently and reliability complete “activities of daily living” (ADLs) he or she may be showing signs of Alzheimer’s Disease or another dementia (cognitive impairment).

Having temporary trouble with an activity of daily living may not be alarming, but when an individual has persistent difficulties with one or more ADL, it is recommended that they consult with a physician for a thorough examination.

What are “Activities of Daily Living”?

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) are tasks that we carry out routinely every day. They include

  • Eating
  • Hygiene: bathing, washing, brushing teeth, and grooming)
  • Dressing: selecting and putting on clothing
  • Using the toilet and maintaining continence
  • Movement: walking and getting into and out of bed and chairs

There are also Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs), which are more complex tasks that have an impact on whether an individual can function independently. For example,

  • Communication: using phone, email or other tools to communicate as needed
  • Transportation: driving or using appropriate public/private transportation
  • Shopping: buying food, clothing, medications, and other necessities
  • Food preparation: making appropriate food choices, preparing and storing foods safely, and following recipes
  • Medications: organizing and taking medications appropriately
  • Home maintenance: completing tasks related to safety, cleanliness, and proper functioning of the home and appliances
  • Finances: making sound financial decisions, keeping accurate financial records, and understanding one’s financial resources

 

The American Elder Care Research Organization provides its definitions of ADLs and IADLs, along with a checklist for informal use, at ADLs & IADLs.

Another article, by social worker Esther Heerema for VeryWell.com, provides information about the reasons for changes in ADLs and some tips for caregivers at ADLs – Causes and Tips.

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