Your bedtime alarm blares, signaling it’s time to wake up and greet the day. You reach over, hit the off button, and slowly roll out of bed. It sounds so simple, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward for millions of seniors. 

The natural aging process can result in a loss of independence and the inability to perform basic, everyday tasks, known as activities of daily living. Below, we dive into the importance of activities of daily living (ADLs) and their role in evaluating a senior’s level of independence. If you are looking for assisted living in New Orleans, Louisiana, please contact Audubon Care Homes® today. We are family-owned and operated, and our team of expert caregivers can’t wait to meet you and your family. 

Basic Activities of Daily Living

In the 1950s, Dr. Sidney Katz developed a simple yet practical assessment to evaluate basic day-to-day activities, such as using the bathroom. The tool is called the Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living and is still in use today. The assessment helps measure your independence based on six activities of daily living, as listed below. The ability to perform a task efficiently and without help is marked by a point, whereas zero is scored if the patient cannot complete the task alone. 


If your elderly loved one can bathe independently or only needs help with one specific area of the body (like their back), they get a point. If they are dependent on someone else for bathing, they score a zero. 


Can your elderly loved one dress by themself? They get a point if they can retrieve their clothes from their closet, put on underwear and socks, button and clasp their shirts and pants, and bend over to tie their shoes. If someone has to dress them or they become unbalanced when tying their shoes, they score a zero. 


Can they get on and off the toilet alone? Can they clean their genital area appropriately afterward? If so, they get a point here too. If they need help getting on and off the toilet or can’t clean themself, they get zero points. 


If they can move in and out of bed, they get a point. Transferring applies to chairs too. If they need help getting in and out of bed or a chair or require a complete transfer, they score a zero.


Your elderly loved one must exercise total control over their bladder and bowel functions to get a point for continence. Even partial incontinence scores zero points. 


Your elderly loved one must be able to transfer food from the plate to their mouth and chew and swallow. If so, then they score a point.  If they need help or must have parenteral feeding, then they get zero points. 

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) are more challenging daily tasks than basic ADLs. This evaluation is more profound than the regular assessment because it evaluates more complex tasks. 

The Lawton-Brody Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Scale (IADL) is the assessment for instrumental activities of daily living. This test also uses a point system to score the person in question. The IADL is a little more in-depth. 


Your elderly loved one receives a point if they can grocery shop and run errands without help. Even if they shop on their own for small purchases, they need total independence to receive a point.

Food Prep

Food prep is the same. The assessee only gets a point for total food prep, including planning, preparing, and serving adequate meals. If your elderly loved one is incapable of preparing their own meals, they receive a zero score. 


Housekeeping is complex because the nuances of taking care of the home are dynamic. Can your elderly loved one make their bed, load the dishwasher, pick up after themselves, etc. If they can perform all household duties, they receive a point. 


Can your elderly loved one do the laundry? That counts for a point, as does rinsing small items. If others do the laundry, that equates to a zero. 


Transportation is an area where your elderly loved one is not as sharp as they used to be. They may not feel comfortable driving or even taking public transportation anymore. If they are still able to drive, they score a point. If not, this category is marked zero. Safely driving from place to place is essential for independence and to prevent social isolation


Being responsible for medications is vital to avoid a potentially fatal overdose or bad reaction. To earn a point, your elderly loved one must be accountable for taking their medications at the proper times in the correct dosage. 


It’s essential to be able to handle finances and manage day-to-day financial necessities. Many seniors suffer from memory issues, so it’s worrisome to have them handling their finances. They earn a point if they can manage their checkbook, pay credit cards, deposit funds, and stay financially responsible. 

Assessing Your Activities of Daily Living

The ability to perform activities of daily living is often taken for granted. Consider assisted living if your elderly loved one scored poorly on the ADL and IADL assessments. It’s imperative that your elderly loved one is safe, and the inability to perform ADLs puts them at risk. Here is a helpful article on talking to an elderly loved one about assisted living.  


Contact us today, and we’ll gladly answer any questions you may have about caring for seniors.  If you are considering assisted living for an elderly loved one in New Orleans, here is a list of our FAQs. There are many myths about senior living, including being expensive and unaffordable. At Audubon Care Homes®, we have roommate accommodations for people with lower budgets. Furthermore, residential assisted living provides more personalized care than larger senior living communities due to higher caregiver-to-resident ratios.