What are the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)?
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What are the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)?

What are the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)

IADLs are the abilities and skills that an individual needs to perform everyday tasks to live independently. The activities are not basic requirements, but they are vital in seeing that a person lives a quality life and has relative independence. An evaluation of a person to carry out the instrumental activities of daily living is used to determine whether she/he can live in their home without help.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Checklist

IADLs are lost before (ADLs). IADLs are not required daily but they are necessary.

Evaluation of IADLs can help in determining the level of assistance that the elderly need.

The IADLs include:

  • Basic communication skills – This includes the use of the internet, mobile phones, emails, and a regular phone.
  • Transportation – Use of public transport, arrange a ride, or drive oneself.
  • Shopping – Ability to make wise, food and clothing, purchases
  • Meal Preparation – Meal planning, cooking, cleaning up and safely using kitchen gadgets
  • Housework – Dusting, laundry, washing dishes, and maintaining a clean environment in the area of residence.
  • Managing medications – Refilling drugs and taking an accurate dosage at the right time.
  • Managing personal finances – Avoiding scams, writing cheques, operating in a budget, and paying bills.

What are the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)?

ADLs are used every day, and they are basic requirements of living in a community or home independently.

Although there are many variations on ADLs, most organizations agree with the following;

  • Personal hygiene – Nail care, oral care, grooming and showering/bathing
  • Dressing – Dress/undress alone and make an appropriate clothing choice.
  • Eating – Preparing food is not necessary, but an individual should be able to feed themselves.
  • Maintaining continence – Physical and mental capacity to use the bathroom independently. This includes getting on and off the toilet as well as cleaning up oneself.
  • Transferring/Mobility – Getting in and out of bed, walking from one location to another, moving, sitting, or standing.

Whether an individual can perform the above tasks or depend on a family caregiver for help serves a crucial part in measuring the independence of an individual.

Why Are Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Important?

A study carried out in the USA showed that by 2030 there would be over 55 million above the age of 65, which is 20% of the population and the number of people above 85 years is significantly growing.

An individual’s score in IADL is paramount in making decisions as to whether or not they can continue living alone. It also helps in seeing that they get the level of help they need. Little help may make them suffer, and too much help may make them feel like they are losing themselves.

IADL can also be used to measure cognitive skills and screen any symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Scale

Lawton’s Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) Scale was developed to measure IADLs.

The Lawton IADL Scale only takes 10 to 15 minutes to test the skills. It has eight items rated from 0(lowest functioning) to 8 (highest functioning). The scale can be done through written questionnaires or interviews.

The caregiver or the patient can give the answers. Those eligible for the scale include people admitted in a hospital, rehabilitation or short-skilled nursing unit and of course older people in the community.

The scale is, however, not important for older adults living in homes as the staff members do the activities.

There are multiple scales that families can use online to access the IADLs of their loved ones. They are easy to complete as they are intended to be used by individuals with no professional knowledge.

Family members answer several questions and total up the score and then compares the results with others.

A more detailed ADL test can be conducted by a family therapist. This is more detailed as it focuses more on health.

Assessment Tips for Caregivers

Here are tips that you may use to access the ADLs and IADLs;

  • Ask around about the changes that your loved one may have from siblings and neighbors.
  • Access on a spectrum. Ask yourself whether your loved one can do a “little bit” sometimes, “Yes” or “No.”
  • Be patient when someone is doing the task slowly; it doesn’t mean they cannot do it.
  • Consider the timing. Many elders have great cognitive abilities in the morning.
  • Consider their health. If they are struggling with fatigue and virus, they can be momentarily impaired.
  • Find time to observe. Sometimes the busy schedule can lead to wrong results. Be patient during the process.
  • Understand why you are carrying out the assessment. Is it to stay prepared physically for the coming year? Is it for Medicaid application? Is it a checklist for a long term community?
  • Look at your preconceived notions. Are they interfering with your ability to make the right decisions?

Try to correct your loved one as you let them do their stuff to live a quality and independent life.

Tips on Improving Abilities Related to Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

Assisting your loved one to maintain their IADLs can help them live in their home longer, leading to overall happiness and wholeness.

Here are several ways that elders can improve their IADLs;

  • Exercise daily. Research shows that exercising helps patients remain active, reduce healthcare costs as well as significantly reduce doctor visits. A simple short walk around the block can help keep seniors mobile and eventually increase independence.
  • Complete puzzles. A study shows that completing crosswords and word searches four times a week can reduce the risk of dementia by almost 47%.
  • Healthy Diet. Everyone benefits from healthy eating habits. The latter is key to longevity for elders. Good health boosts the energy of elders and helps them have more independence.
  • Accept help. Feel free to hire a caregiver to run errands and help with activities such as cooking.
  • Use assistance devices to make the dressing, toileting, and bathing easier.
  • Choose the right clothing. Ensure you avoid clothing with complex buttons and buy them the ones with zippers instead.
  • Consider therapy. Speech and rehabilitation therapies such as physiotherapy improve an elder’s mobility and posture improving independence.
  • Eliminate activities that cause problems. For example, eating foods like sandwiches that don’t require a knife or fork can help with coordination issues.

One Final Word

Aging is beautiful and scary at the same time. Our bodies stop functioning the same way they used to when we were young.

Eating healthy and exercising can help improve the situation. However, when you see things getting harder, it is advisable to take an IADLs interview to know where you stand.

IADLs results help determine whether it is safe for you to live alone or not. If you need help, they dictate the level at which you require the help.