IADLs or the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living are more complex than the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) needed for basic unassisted living and go a long way in improving the quality of life for elders.
Needing help with some areas of life when aging is relatively common- according to research, approximately 18% of adults over the age of 75 require assistance with one or more IADLs, while nearly 11% require ADL assistance. The majority of elders get along fine without ADL assistance, however, about half of all admissions into long-term care are due only to the inability to complete ADL’s without assistance. Examples of ADLs include:
• Bathing and showering
• Choosing appropriate clothes and getting dressed
• Using the bathroom without assistance
• Walk, and get in and out of furniture and baths
• Eat meals independently, not including cooking the meals but simply using cutlery
A simple way to refer to IADLs is by remembering the mnemonic SHAFT – Shopping, Housekeeping (or housework), Accounting (or managing money), Food preparation and Telephone/Transportation. IADLs are different from ADLs in that the basic essential functions of survival are not threatened. You’ll be able to live by yourself but you may find yourself unable to manage tasks such as:
• Managing your budget, including using the ATM, writing checks, and remembering your bills- you might find yourself coming up short for necessities like food
• Remembering to go to doctors appointments, and taking your medications as prescribed
• Planning and preparing meals, which could also pose significant safety and health risk
• Being able to do housework and prepare your meals.
• Doing your own shopping – be it groceries, clothing, or anything else you need.
• Using the telephone and computer as a means of communication
• Managing transportation – be it driving, or hiring cabs or taking public transportation
• Managing your household in its entirety – including pet care if you have any pets
• Any and all extracurricular activities – be it maintaining a hobby or socializing with friends, family, and peers.
Usually, when a person is unable to perform their IADLs or ADLs at home, they must seek outside help to make sure they stay healthy. This can mean hiring an in-home caregiver or a paid relative to move into your home, or moving into an assisted living community.