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What Are the Activities of Daily Living?

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As we age, daily tasks can become more strenuous, and when these daily activities become difficult to manage, additional support can help you live safely and comfortably. Assisted living can support older adults who are struggling with everyday activities. This lifestyle allows residents to live as independently as they like with the knowledge they have assistance whenever they need it. 

If you are considering a senior living facility for you or a loved one, how do you know what the daily activities of living are, and if someone is struggling to meet them? Learn more about these activities below. 

What are the Activities of Daily Living? 

Activities of daily living (ADL) are essential tasks we routinely perform throughout our lives. Most young and healthy people can perform these without any assistance. These activities can include grooming, eating, and using the bathroom. The identified daily activities are: 

  • Walking
  • Feeding 
  • Dressing & grooming
  • Toileting 
  • Bathing 
  • Transferring 


Walking is an essential activity we use every day of our lives. When you get older, you may need the assistance of a cane or walking frame for additional support, but you can still independently move. Ambulation is the technical term for this. 

When you or a loved one is unable to independently move around the house, some additional support may help. In a senior living community, support staff can help residents with any movement, and regular exercise for residents can help maintain their ability to move as they age. 


Feeding refers to your ability to get food from a plate into your mouth, not the ability to prepare and cook your own food. Everyone needs daily nutrition to stay healthy and provide energy throughout their day. If a family member cannot regularly eat independently, daily assistance can ensure they eat healthily. 

Dressing & Grooming 

Dressing and grooming is your ability to select clothes, put them on, and manage your appearance. This can include brushing your teeth, cleaning your nails, brushing your hair, and any other personal hygiene. If a loved one is struggling to take care of their hygiene, additional assistance can help them maintain their overall health and appearance.  


Toileting is your ability to get to and from the bathroom, use the toilet, and clean yourself properly afterward. This ability can become more difficult with age, and a regular house may not have the proper features for an easier bathroom experience. Assisted living can offer many solutions for a resident needing assistance in the restroom


Bathing is your ability to wash your face and body during a bath or shower. Similar to using the toilet, bathing can become difficult with age. A loved one may be at risk of falling in the shower or they may struggle to effectively wash their hair. 


Transferring refers to your ability to move from one body position to another. This includes standing up from your bed, a chair, or moving into a chair or wheelchair. If a family member is unable to stand up or move into a new position with an assistive device, they may require additional daily support. 

The amount of support needed for each ADL depends on the person’s unique needs. Someone may only need help to tie their shoes, or they may need to be fully dressed by someone else. An ADL can vary from minimal assistance to full dependence. 

Our daily needs are not fully met by these activities and are typically assisted by more complex tasks called instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). 

An older couple bringing in groceries from a trip to the store

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living 

We typically learn instrumental activities of daily living when we are teenagers, and they help us to manage our everyday lives. These are more complex tasks such as organization, driving, and management. These activities include: 

  • Managing transportation
  • Managing communication 
  • Managing medications 
  • Managing finances 
  • Shopping & meal preparation 
  • Housekeeping & maintenance  

An older person may struggle with driving or securing transportation such as a bus or taxi, or they may have trouble using a phone to communicate and connect with others. Other difficult tasks can include taking the right medications when needed, keeping the house clean of trash and clutter, and paying bills on time. 

These tasks are more complex but they are still activities of daily living, and an adult must be able to manage these effectively. When someone you love can no longer manage these activities, their quality of life and overall health may be affected. They may need proper management and assistance in these daily tasks, and assisted living can provide this continuously. 

ADLs & IADLs are Important 

These daily activities of living are important for any adult to live independently. When we age and these tasks become more difficult or tedious, there is nothing wrong with receiving help from others. If you or a family member cannot be properly assisted throughout the day, a senior living facility can offer continuous support whenever it is needed. 

There are many senior living facilities available for someone needing assistance in their daily lives. If you have questions or want to know more about the features of assisted living, contact an expert

Written by kaplan

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