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Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) are things you do every day to take care of yourself and your home. They are one way to measure how well you can live on your own. While activities of daily living (ADLs) are basic self-care tasks like bathing, IADLs require more complex planning and thinking.
Sometimes aging and health problems make it hard to do these tasks. You might not even notice that you can't do them as well as you used to. Often, the first sign that someone needs a little extra help is when that person can't do IADLs.
Your doctor uses IADLs to measure how much help you need. Knowing what you can and can't do for yourself is an important first step to getting help. And when you have the help you need, you can stay as independent as possible.
Your doctor will want to know if you are able to do tasks such as:
If you are having trouble taking care of yourself or your home, talk with your doctor. You may want to bring a caregiver or family member who can help the doctor understand your needs and abilities.
Asking about IADLs is part of a routine health checkup your doctor will likely do as you age. Your health check might be done in a doctor's office, in your home, or at a hospital. The goal is to find out if you are having any problems that could make your health problems worse or that make it unsafe for you to be on your own.
For example, to measure your IADLs, your doctor may ask:
It's common to feel worried or anxious if you find you can't do all the things you used to be able to do. But talking with your doctor about IADLs isn't a test that you either pass or fail. It's just a way to learn more about your health and safety.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Current as of: February 27, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Joan Rigg PT, OCS - Physical Therapy
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