Instrumental Activities of Daily Living: The 8 IADLs Explained


If you have spent any time in assisted living in Tallahassee or other places in the country, you may have heard the term ADL or IADL used by staff. Both terms are shorthand for essential tasks that every person must be able to perform for basic well-being. ADL stands for “activities of daily living,” and IADL stands for “instrumental activities of daily living.” 

Instrumental activities of daily living are considered more complex than ADLs. They affect a person’s social and financial life and focus on interaction with your environment. Activities of Daily Living focus on basic survival needs where a failure could endanger the person’s life. 

The 8 IADLs

ADLs are tasks that a person must be able to perform without assistance in order to live safely at home alone. They encompass:

  1. Cognition
  2. Medication assistance
  3. Eating
  4. Toileting tasks
  5. Mobility
  6. Transferring
  7. Bathing
  8. Dressing

The instrumental activities of life impact the quality of a senior’s life but do not pose physical harm. Other people, such as a spouse, friend, or professional care provider, can complete IADLs to help make the person’s life more complete. These may include:

  • Meal preparation
  • Housekeeping
  • Managing finances
  • Running errands
  • Providing transportation to church or other social events

The main difference between ADLs and IADLs is survival. If a person cannot perform one or more ADLs, they may not be safe to live independently. However, if they cannot perform an IADL, someone else can do it for them.

Do I Need Assisted Living in Tallahassee If I Can’t Perform IADLs?

An inability to perform one or more IADLs may lead to poor life quality. Instrumental Activities of Daily Living help individuals flourish and stay connected to their communities. The reason why a person can no longer fulfill their own IADLs is important to consider.

Not every person struggling to meet their IADLs needs assisted living, but if medical issues or memory loss is the root of the problem, moving into a Tallahassee memory care center or independent living facility can be a positive step towards a more meaningful life.

IADLs are considered an indicator. The inability to fulfill them now and then is normal for everyone. Asking friends or family members to pitch in during times of illness or when schedules get busy is a part of life. However, if you are consistently unable to take care of IADLs independently, it may be a warning that other things are going on.

If you notice yourself or your loved one slipping, it may be time for a complete check-up, including a cognitive evaluation.

Talking to Your Loved One About IADL Dependence

Whether it’s your parents, spouse, or other loved ones, talking to them about how they manage their lives is difficult. They may view your questions as an unwelcome personal intrusion. However, there are many resources that can help. It may be helpful to discuss your concerns with an aging-care expert who can tell you more about assisted living in Tallahassee

Seniors shouldn’t wait until they “can’t” take care of all their own needs in order to benefit from a new living situation. Remind your loved one that many active seniors enjoy their life more once they are no longer solely responsible for all the chores associated with everyday life.  

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