When you wake up in the morning, you get up, and walk to the bathroom. You shower, brush your teeth and move on with your day. This is the start of our daily activities. Beyond personal care, it includes shopping, getting around, doing housework, and preparing meals.
What are Activities for Daily Living (ADL)
Our daily minimum requirements for leading independent lives are referred to as Activities of Daily Living or ADLs. Simply put, ADLs are the set of tasks we have to complete to take care of ourselves. Maintaining our ability to complete all our ADLs is one of the aims of a healthy senior lifestyle, with aging at home as its primary goal.
The complete list of Activities for Daily Living includes1:
- Using the bathroom
- Getting in and out of the bed
These activities are so simple that we don’t mind them when we are younger. Most of these will be hard to do on our own when we grow old.
These are different fro Instrumental Activities for Daily Living
IADL are composed of chores for daily living. Some of these chores/housework seniors do are the following1:
- Doing the laundry
- Using the telephone
- Using public transportation or driving
ADL chores or tasks are done to live on your own but are not as complex to do as IADLS.
If you can’t handle all these on your own as a senior, it doesn’t mean that you will need someone who will tend to you most of the time. However, you may still need to get help. If you grow old and will be having a tough time in doing these, you should plan to find someone who can assist you if your goal is to age at home.
Signs that an older adult needs help
One of the many ways of determining whether you are fit for living alone is when you are having a hard time doing ADLs. Here are some of the signs that you (or your senior loved one) may be needing help2:
1. Risk for falls
If you (or your loved one) have difficulties in carrying something substantial up and down while climbing stairs, it may be a sign that it’s time to consider finding extra help for these tasks. Since using ladders or stools can also pose a risk for falls, it is best to find someone able to assist in ensuring your needs are met. There may be a need to consider home modifications that suit a senior’s lifestyle.
If there are unopened mail or unpaid bills, it may be a sign that your loved one may need your help. You should assess those problems and look for opportunities to help them.
3. Problems with transportation
If you start seeing new scratches and dents on your loved one’s vehicle, it is best to have a conversation about them and how they occurred. If you’re riding along with them, try to take note of their ability to check mirrors, spot dangers, and their reflexes. You can refresh their driving skills with the help of a safety driving program. Or, if you feel that they are not suited anymore for driving, you can look for alternative senior transportation options.
4. Senior social isolation can be a consequence
Do you feel that your elderly is becoming socially isolated? Surveys of the elderly have shown that one of the reasons they stop being socially active is the progressive loss in their abilities to do their activities for daily living. Such as for example, concerns they can enjoy their meals free from spills due to tremors.
Loneliness may result from their being isolated, which can lead to new health issues cascading.
5. Change in appearance
Do you notice a change in the appearance of your loved one? This can be either in the form of weight gain or loss. Or perhaps they are having a hard time staying on top of their hygiene routine or wearing the same clothes several days in a row.
This can be a sign you should consider seeking medical advice, as there can be many reasons for such. It can be due to both physical and psychological factors, like depression or anxiety.
Mon Tonton - community for senior wellness
Talk to your seniors with care, love, and understanding. We all know that the topic of aging is a hard one that we don’t talk about enough, and when we do, it’s rarely in a positive light due to what we associate with it. Above all, don’t give the impression you are stripping them of their independence. Instead, focus the topic on the need to accept that time for interdependence may have arrived.
At Mon Tonton, we want to be a catalyst for a new way of talking about aging. One where we focus equal amounts on our changing needs, as to how much we rely on each other across generations.
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