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Assessing Eligibility for the North Carolina Medicaid Personal Care Services

Activities of
Daily Living

Healthcare provider helping elderly person with brushing teeth - ADL

What Are Activities of Daily Living (ADL)?

Are you having problems taking care of yourself on a daily basis? Is bathing a problem for you? Do you need help with eating or getting dressed? Activities of Daily Living, known as ADLs, are tasks performed by each individual on a daily basis that are essential to living independently.

There are five categories of activities of daily living (ADLs):

  1. Bathing
  2. Dressing
  3. Mobility
  4. Toileting
  5. Eating

So What Do These ADLs Mean In Every Day Terms?

  • Bathing is your personal hygiene, grooming and oral care. Examples are taking a shower or bath, washing your face, combing your hair, brushing your teeth or caring for your dentures.

  • Dressing or undressing yourself. Can you put on your clothes and then take the clothes off? Can you put on socks and tie your shoes?

  • Mobility or moving around. Can you get up out of bed and walk to the bathroom? If you're on the toilet, can you get up again by yourself? If you're in a wheelchair, can you lift yourself in and out of the chair? Note: In medical terms, mobility is also known as transferring.

  • Toileting involves continence-related tasks, including control and hygiene. Simply put, can you go to the toilet when needed and then clean yourself afterwards?

  • Eating is your ability to feed yourself. Can you pick up a fork and bring the food to your mouth? Can you hold a glass without spilling what is in the glass?

In the healthcare field, your ability to perform these activities of daily living is used to measure how well you can function on a day-to-day basis.

What Are IADLs?

The following activities, while some may consider these as ADLs, these are not. Another part of determining if a person can live independently is Instrumental Activities of Daily Life. IADLs, as they are also known, are activities that are more complex.

IADLs include:

  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Shopping
  • Transportation
  • Using medications
  • Using the phone
  • Caring for pets
  • Caring for other people
  • Getting healthcare
  • Finance management

These tasks often require more work and have multiple steps. These can be some of the first difficulties that people have as they age.