Aging in place: Know your ADLs/IADLs

Q. I keep hearing more about aging in place. Why is that?
Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A. Ask any senior facing the possibility of moving out of their family home and they will most likely tell you they prefer to “age in place.” That place has to be safe and functional. The growth of our senior population combined with a trend toward aging at home rather than a nursing home or other supportive living environment means more and more spouses, adult children and other family members will be called upon to care for their elderly relatives. Many of these family caregivers will provide help with ADL (activities of daily living) and IADLs (instrumental activities of daily living).

The statics are abundant. Eighty-nine percent of seniors, according to the AARP, wish to remain in their homes indefinitely.

There are many reasons this is happening. The baby boomer generation is coming of age and most want to stay in a familiar, comfortable environment. Living close to family and friends is viewed as important, and  feelings of familiarity, safety and security are asociated with staying in their existing living environment.

Activities of daily living can include: Eating and drinking; walking and transferring (such as moving from bed to wheelchair); toileting and continence, bathing and dressing, and hygiene and grooming.

Instrumental activities of daily living are the complex skills needed to successfully live independently. They include: managing finances, handling transportation (driving or navigating public transit), shopping, preparing meals, housekeeping, laundry, general home upkeep or handyman activities and managing medications.

Together, ADLs and IADLs represent the skills that people usually need to be able to manage in order to live as independent adults.

Kay Koch, OTR/L, ATP, is an independent consultant. Email her