What are activities of daily living (ADL)?

Activities of daily living (ADL) refer to daily activities that individuals normally do, unassisted, to take care of themselves. These activities include: bathing, eating, cooking, walking, dressing, house chores, personal hygiene and walking. Usually, healthcare professionals (nurses, nurse's aides, doctors) measure a person's well-being by their ability to perform these tasks. As people get older or become ill, they have a reduced ability to perform activities of daily living. An individual's ability to perform activities of daily living are used by:

a) insurance companies, as one of the items that determine eligibility for long-term care insurance.

b) healthcare professionals, to measure the onset or advancement of certain illnesses, like arthritis, rheumatism, Huntington's and Parkinson's disease, and the patients' recovery from illnesses.

There are facilities that measure ADL for individuals including: hospices, assisted living facilities, adult day services and nursing homes. Some of these facilities also have programs that teach and mentor individuals who are losing the ability to perform ADL. There are also devices and gadgets that are built to help people perform ADL. Some of these devices include: wheelchairs, walking sticks, long handled brushes, special cups and bowls, bath seats, reachers to help with dressing, etc. These items can be found by contacting nursing homes and other medical facilities or going to medical stores. (Learn more about long-term care insurance in our article, Long-Term Care Insurance: Who Needs It?)

This question was answered by Chizoba Morah.

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