The Six Activities for Daily Living

The Activities for Daily Living (ADL) are classified into six separate and distinct areas. 

The purpose of the ADL’s is to use them as a guide in determining whether or not a senior has the ability to live on their own or not.

Here are the six ADL’s…and after I have listed them I will bring my own perspective and experiences in dealing with my mother’s situation to each of them to assist those caregivers who are trying to figure out whether or not a loved can live on their own or not.

Video Overview of Activities for Daily Living


The Activities For Daily Livingactivities for daily living

  • Bathing-This is not only being able to wash or shave, but also being able to safely get in and out of the bathtub without the risk of falling, being able to brush your teeth, comb your hair and handle basic personal hygiene.
  • Toileting-Being able to safely get on and get off of the toilet.
  • Continence-This is being able to control your bowels and your bladder.  It can also mean that someone is able to deal with their incontinence independently without the assistance of a caregiver.
  • Transferring-Being able to walk, get in and out of bed as well as in and out of chairs or wheelchairs.
  • Eating-being able to feed yourself…it can also refer to the ability to properly prepare your own meals.
  • Dressing-Not just putting clothes on but also being able to handle buttons, zippers, shoe laces, etc…

When it comes time to make decisions as to whether or not someone has the ability to live safely on their own, these are the six areas that you have to examine.

In my situation, this was difficult at first.  My mother’s physical condition started to deteriorate but she was still able to handle the above…although with increasing difficulty. 

For example, as toileting became more difficult, we installed grab bars as well as a raised toilet in the bathroom that allowed her to maintain her independence for a time.

What my brother and I didn’t have to do was try and convince my mother that the time had come where she needed permanent care.   When she took her heart attack, she was unable to perform any of the ADL’s and we needed to find her a nursing home where she could get the 24-hour care she needed.

Ultimately, the Activities For Daily Living are really a guide that seniors and their caregivers can use to determine whether or not someone has the ability to maintain their independence safely.