What are ADLs?
ADLs, or activities of daily living, are a few tasks that a person should be able to do for themselves on a daily basis, without the assistance, coaching, or advice from others, to maintain a viable lifestyle. These are considered to be essential life skills that we perform for ourselves.
Some people take more time doing them than others (there is no time limit or anyone keeping score), and some people perform them more elaborately than others, but they are a measure of one’s ability to get up each day and set their course on living independently that day.
Currently, there are seven separate ADLs. There have been a few more and a few less over the years, but this is the consensus now. Start with getting out of bed. While some people may find it harder than others to pop out of bed alert for the day, putting our feet on the floor and standing up or transitioning to an assistive device by ourselves is an important first step for the day.
Most of our ADLs focus on personal hygiene, and they conclude with returning to bed to complete the cycle. We do get to eat along the way also. Tomorrow, it begins again.
The importance of ADLs
As a young, active person, ADLs are probably not something that garner top-of-the-mind awareness. We do them without conscious thought. They are just something that we do every day. Call it habit, if you like.
Nevertheless, because we hare able to do them from learned repetition or muscle memory, we are able to focus on more elective areas of living that we may enjoy more – a luxurious soak in the tub rather than just bathing, an exercise routine with a treadmill, walk in the neighborhood, or video instructor, or a more complete breakfast.
Nevertheless, without the essential independent life skills, we don’t get the opportunity to do more advanced activities.
AIP and independence
A key attribute of ADLs is that indicate our independence – our ability to do what needs to be done for ourselves – without help, coaching, or supervision. This is aging in place at whatever age or ability we are.
More than anything else, aging in place – though not exclusively – indicates that we can be independent as we grow older. ADLS are an indication of this reality. Of course, we can have assistance and still remain in our homes, but to the extent we can remain independent, the more viable of a lifestyle we will have.