elderly man being helped up by nursing aid in retirement home

What’s the Difference Between ADLs and IADLs?

All of us face the effects of aging. And with it, challenges arise. It might be harder to perform the activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living. In today’s post, we’ll explain what these are, their differences, and how you independent living can help maintain them.

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. 

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

Activities like file taxes or opening a laptop computer to surf the web are considered IADL. They require good judgment, organizational skills, and physical dexterity. Being able to hold a pen, get dressed, or move from the bed to the sofa would be ADLs.

Instrumental activities play a large role in maintaining autonomy and self-reliance in your golden years. The best way to keep up with activities of daily living is through exercise.

According to Encompasshealth.com, ADLs and IADL-focused exercises 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 

IADLs focus on using one’s cognitive abilities to perform organizational tasks.

If a patient cannot successfully perform ADLs, like dressing, bathing, or changing their clothes, it’s likely that IADLs will be a challenge as well.

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.

If a loved one shows difficulty with IADLs, it’s one of many early signs that other health problems may be 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.