elderly man being helped up by nursing aid in retirement home

What’s the Difference Between ADLs and IADLs?

As seniors age, many can experience more difficulty with completing activities of daily living (ADLs). These are common activities that most people take for granted: getting dressed, eating, and walking. 

Even before help with ADLs is needed, it’s more common for elderly individuals to have some issues with instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs)

ADLs and IADLs. They sound similar, don’t they?

They kind of are.

Both build off one another. But together, they serve to provide a holistic level of patient care for seniors. 

Ivy Knoll, an independent living facility in Covington, Kentucky explains the key differences!

What’s the Difference Between ADLs & IADLs? 

Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) are based on ADLs but are slightly more cognitively complex.

They require good judgment, organizational skills, and physical dexterity. Doing your taxes online would be an IADL. But picking up a pen or opening a computer would be an ADL.

Although IADLs aren’t as essential or fundamental as ADLs, they are still critical to being able to live independently. 

According to Encompasshealth.com, both are an important part of helping older parents with memory loss or providing in-patient rehabilitation for patients recovering from a stroke (OT, PT, speech therapy). 

Examples of Basic Activities of Daily Living 

  • Dressing (using zippers, buttons, or fasteners)
  • Grooming (brushing hair, applying makeup)
  • Eating (using utensils, properly chewing and swallowing)
  • Mobility (walking and moving from seated to standing)
  • Toileting (going to the restroom independently)
  • Bathing (shaving, showering, flossing, etc.)
  • Continence (bladder & bowel control)

Examples of Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)

  • Housekeeping and home maintenance
  • Managing monthly bills
  • Cooking and meal prep
  • Managing medications 
  • Transportation 
  • Caring for pets 
  • Shopping
  • Religious observance
  • Safety and emergency maintenance 

As you can see, IADLs focus on using cognition to think and plan effectively.

If a patient cannot perform ADLs, like dressing, bathing, or changing their clothes, successfully completing their IADLs is going to be quite a stretch.  

How to Know If ADLs or IADLs are Needed?

It can be difficult to discern when a loved one needs help with either ADLs or IADLs — or both! If ADLs become an issue, IADLs will almost certainly be, since these require more complex cognitive tasks.

However, difficulty with IADLs is often an early sign that other health problems are arising, perhaps conditions like dementia or Alzheimers.

If a patient has difficulty performing two or three activities of daily living, it may be time to consider moving into an assisted living community

Do Personal Care Services Help with ADLs or IADLs? 

Personal care is a precursor to assisted living, offering similar services, but without the same level of intensity.

At Ivy Knoll, we offer personal care services from a trained staff of senior care professionals. 

Though limited in scope, our personal care services include assistance with ADLs and IADLs, including managing and taking daily medicines.

Our focus is to promote greater independence and autonomy for our residents. 

If seniors require extensive help with activities of daily living, an assisted living center or skilled nursing facility would be more preferable.

Our independent living facility can and often does make exceptions to this rule, offering extensive assistance with ADLs to residents who can no longer function independently. 

Why We Offer Continuing Care to Help with ADLs & IADLs

At Ivy Knoll, your family member is our family. If one of our residents has extensive health complications and needs further assistance, they don’t have to move out of our community. 

They can find 24/7 quality care and recuperate in our personal care floor of our facility until they’re ready to rejoin the independent living section. 

We have experienced, knowledgeable, and friendly staff that ensures they get the medical assistance that they need, while still being able to reside in their home.

Book Your Tour of Ivy Knoll in Covington, KY.

Interested in moving into a vibrant, active retirement community that values your independence?

Consider taking a virtual tour of our open-concept floor plans!

Speak to a coordinator to schedule your in-person tour of your new apartment at Ivy Knoll today by calling: (859) 491-3800.