What Are ADLs and Why Are They Important?
When you or a loved one is thinking about receiving additional care, there are many factors that go into it. One of the first steps in needing extra help is assessing what areas may need extra attention. An indicator as to what type of care may be needed is looking into how much assistance is needed for a person to perform their ADLs.
ADLs are Activities of Daily Living and they refer to the skills that are needed to sustain a person’s physical needs. The areas of ADLs are eating, dressing, bathing, toileting, continence, and mobility. As a person ages, one of more areas can be affected. These ADLs are used as indicators of a person’s functional status. Every person is different and needs in one category might vary against needs in another. By assessing these ADLs, we can determine the level of care that is needed and set up assistance.
Another way that ADLs can be useful is when they’re monitored over time. Often, with age, functional ability decreases and keeping watch over changes in ADLs can help to ensure that all physical and mental health problems are being assessed. Decrease in functional status and changes in ADLs can also be an indicator of an underlying medical condition. Unmet needs in the categories of ADLs can lead to multiple health concerns such as malnutrition, poor personal hygiene, isolation, falls, and illnesses such as urinary tract infections. One of the best ways to stay on top of aging is to ensure that a senior has the daily care that they need to perform their ADLs, which can in turn prevent new and worsening health issues. In a way, it’s a sort of health investment. For example, aiding a senior who may need help bathing now could extend their lifespan and proactively prevent health conditions down the line. Most often, a senior who requires assistance with ADLs will need personal care assistance. This can be important to note when comparing different options of care, because independent living facilities do not assist with ADLs, whereas in-home care, assisted living, or a nursing home would. Needing assistance with ADLs can also be a criterion for many elder care programs involving grants. If you or someone you know needs assistance with their ADLs, it’s worth seeing if you’re eligible to participate in the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders. The CT Home Care Program helps provide financial support to elderly who may need assistance acquiring non-medical home care with a company like Golden Horizons. To see if you’re eligible, reach out to your local Agency on Aging.