Activities of daily living (ADLs) refer to the basic self-care tasks that individuals typically perform on a daily basis to take care of themselves and maintain their independence. ADLs are used as a measure of an individual’s ability to function independently and are frequently assessed in medical and social care settings.
The six primary ADLs are:
- Bathing – the ability to wash oneself and perform basic hygiene tasks such as brushing teeth and combing hair
- Dressing – the ability to select and put on appropriate clothing
- Eating – the ability to feed oneself and manage utensils
- Toileting – the ability to use the toilet and manage personal hygiene
- Transferring – the ability to move from one position to another, such as from sitting to standing
- Continence – the ability to control bladder and bowel functions
In addition to these primary ADLs, instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) are more complex tasks that are necessary for independent living in the community. These may include managing finances, shopping for groceries, preparing meals, and using transportation.
Assessing a patient’s ability to perform ADLs is an important part of the medical evaluation process, especially in older adults or those with chronic medical conditions. Impairment in ADLs can be an indicator of physical or cognitive decline, and can impact an individual’s ability to live independently, maintain social connections, and engage in meaningful activities.
Interventions to improve or maintain ADL functioning may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, assistive devices, and caregiver support. In some cases, modifications to the living environment may also be necessary to accommodate physical limitations and promote independence.