What Are ADLs and IADLs?

Smiling Senior Couple Looking Out Window_Sunscape™ Daytona Beach

You likely go about your daily routine without thinking too much about the details of the tasks you are doing or putting them into categories. However, when it comes to brushing your teeth or making a grocery list, these are categorized into ADLs and IADLs.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) play a significant role in helping individuals maintain their independence and overall well-being. Understanding the distinction between these two categories can help individuals, family members, and healthcare professionals evaluate abilities and determine appropriate care plans.

At Sunscape™ Daytona Beach, we use a person’s ability to perform ADLs and IADLs to help us customize the support we offer in our senior living community in Daytona Beach, Florida. Below, our team shares what ADLs and IADLs are, as well as their significance.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

Activities of daily living refer to basic self-care tasks necessary for daily functioning. The National Library of Medicine describes ADLs as “fundamental skills required to independently care for oneself.” These areas include:

Personal Hygiene

Senior Man Brushing His Teeth_ADLs and IADLs_Sunscape™ Daytona BeachPersonal hygiene includes activities such as bathing or showering, oral care, grooming (brushing hair, shaving, and nail care), and toileting.


Dressing encompasses the ability to choose and put on appropriate clothing items, including undergarments, shoes, and accessories.


Eating involves the ability to feed oneself independently, including the physical act of eating, using utensils, and drinking.


Mobility encompasses the ability to move around independently, such as walking, transferring from one position to another (e.g., getting in and out of bed or a chair), and using assistive devices like canes or walkers.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)

In addition to the basic ADLs, IADLs encompass more complex tasks necessary for independent living; however, they are less crucial to daily functioning since they do not have to be performed every day. These activities also require a higher level of cognitive and organizational skills.

Some common instrumental activities of daily living include:                                                                   

Senior Couple Cooking_Sunscape™ Daytona BeachMeal Preparation and Planning

This involves planning, preparing, and cooking meals independently while considering nutritional needs and dietary restrictions.

Managing Finances

Managing finances includes paying bills on time, budgeting, banking, and managing personal finances.

Medication Management

This involves the ability to manage medications, including filling prescriptions, organizing pillboxes, and adhering to medication schedules.


Housekeeping tasks include cleaning and maintaining a living environment, doing laundry, and managing household chores.


This refers to the ability to navigate and arrange transportation, whether driving a car, using public transportation, or utilizing rideshare services.

Shopping and Errands

This involves the ability to independently shop for groceries and other necessities, as well as running errands such as picking up prescriptions or mailing packages.

The Significance of ADLs and IADLs

Understanding the distinction between ADLs and IADLs is crucial for healthcare professionals, families, and individuals themselves. These activities provide insight into an individual’s abilities, level of independence, health, and safety. This can also help you with the following:

Care Planning

Assessing a person’s ability to perform ADLs and IADLs helps determine the appropriate level of care needed. Whether this is living independently at home or seeking additional support options like we offer in our senior living community in Daytona Beach, this helps individuals and their families understand what level of care is right for their situation.

Finding Supportive Services

Recognizing areas of difficulty with ADLs and IADLs allows caregivers and healthcare professionals to provide targeted support and customized care options.

At Sunscape Daytona Beach, we tailor all of our supportive services to each resident in our community to enhance their overall wellness.

Promoting Independence

By understanding ADLs and IADLs, individuals can proactively work toward maintaining or improving their abilities. In addition, engaging in exercises and programs that specifically target the muscles and skills required for ADLs and IADLs can help promote independence and overall well-being.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) are essential components of maintaining independence, health, and safety. By recognizing the significance of these activities and addressing any challenges, individuals can strive for independence and create a fulfilling lifestyle.

If you would like to learn more about our senior living community in Daytona Beach, Florida, and how we support individuals with ADLs and IADLs to promote overall wellness, we invite you to schedule a visit to our vibrant community!

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