From Morning to Night: The Activities of Daily Living Checklist

When you are caring for a loved one who needs additional support with everyday tasks, you may want to know more about what constitutes activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living, and how they contribute to your loved one’s well-being.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the distinctions between ADLs and IADLs, provide an Activities of Daily Living checklist to assess them, and offer tips to ensure the smooth completion of these tasks.

What Are ADLs?

ADLs, or Activities of Daily Living, are the cornerstone of personal independence, encompassing essential self-care tasks vital for day-to-day functioning. Within the realm of ADLs, six key areas define the spectrum of necessary activities:


More than just the act of putting on clothes, dressing involves the cognitive ability to select appropriate attire for the occasion and the physical dexterity to dress oneself independently, reflecting individual style and comfort.


Beyond the mere act of consuming food, feeding oneself involves planning and preparing meals if necessary, ensuring adequate nutrition and sustenance to support overall health and well-being.

Personal Hygiene

Maintaining cleanliness and grooming practices is fundamental to physical health and social interactions. This includes bathing, shaving, brushing teeth, and other oral care routines promoting hygiene and self-esteem.


Control over bladder and bowel movements is crucial for maintaining dignity, comfort, and overall health. Individuals must have the ability to manage these functions independently or with minimal assistance to preserve autonomy and quality of life.


The ability to use the toilet safely and appropriately extends beyond the physical act itself; it involves recognizing the need to relieve oneself, accessing toilet facilities, and maintaining hygiene standards to prevent infections and discomfort.

Functional Mobility

Moving around the home and community is vital for maintaining independence and social engagement. This includes transferring in and out of chairs or beds, walking safely, and navigating various environments confidently and easily.

What are IADLs?

In contrast, IADLs, or Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, encompass more complex tasks that are essential for fostering independence and managing daily affairs:

Meal Preparation

Planning and executing nutritious meals requires cognitive skills such as decision-making, organization, time management, and practical abilities to handle kitchen tools and ingredients safely.

Paying Bills

Managing finances is critical for maintaining stability and autonomy. This involves budgeting, bill payment, and financial planning to meet basic needs and obligations while avoiding financial distress.


Procuring groceries and other essentials necessitates logistical skills such as planning, budgeting, and transportation arrangements, as well as the ability to make informed choices based on personal preferences and dietary requirements.

Medication Management

Organizing and adhering to medication schedules is crucial for managing chronic conditions and promoting health. This involves understanding prescription instructions, maintaining medication supplies, and adhering to dosage regimens to optimize therapeutic outcomes.

Care Services

Arranging and managing healthcare appointments and services is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being. This includes scheduling appointments, coordinating transportation, and advocating for appropriate medical interventions to address individual needs and preferences.

Together, ADLs and IADLs form the foundation of independent living, reflecting individuals' holistic needs and capabilities in maintaining their daily routines and managing their affairs.

ADL Checklist

When evaluating an individual's ability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), a structured checklist can provide valuable insights into their level of independence and functional capacity. The Katz Index of Independence in ADLs offers a standardized framework for assessing performance across the six fundamental categories we mentioned above:


  • Can the person select appropriate clothing for the weather and occasion?
  • Does the person demonstrate an understanding of the dressing sequence (e.g., putting on undergarments before outerwear)?
  • Can the person fasten buttons, zip up zippers, and manage other clothing closures independently?
  • Does the person exhibit personal style preferences when choosing attire?


  • Can the person use utensils effectively to eat a variety of foods?
  • Does the person demonstrate awareness of dietary restrictions or preferences?
  • Can the person open containers, cut food, and manage portion sizes?
  • Does the person maintain proper posture and table manners while eating?

Personal Hygiene:

  • Is the person able to bathe independently, including washing and rinsing all body parts?
  • Can the person effectively use grooming tools such as combs, brushes, and razors?
  • Does the person understand the importance of oral hygiene and demonstrate proper tooth brushing and flossing techniques?
  • Is the person able to maintain the cleanliness of personal spaces, such as wiping down sinks and countertops after use?


  • Does the person recognize the sensation of needing to use the bathroom?
  • Can the person access and utilize bathroom facilities promptly and safely when needed?
  • Is the person able to manage incontinence products if necessary?
  • Does the person exhibit a consistent pattern of bladder and bowel control throughout the day?


  • Can the person independently manage clothing and undergarments when using the toilet?
  • Does the person demonstrate proper wiping and hygiene techniques after toileting?
  • Is the person capable of flushing the toilet and washing hands independently?
  • Can the person safely navigate bathroom hazards such as wet floors and slippery surfaces?

Functional Mobility:

  • Is the person able to stand up from a seated position without assistance?
  • Can the person walk safely and confidently on level surfaces, stairs, and uneven terrain?
  • Does the person use mobility aids such as canes or walkers appropriately?
  • Can the person navigate obstacles and hazards in their environment, such as furniture and rugs?

By expanding the ADL checklist to include these detailed considerations, caregivers and healthcare professionals can gain a more comprehensive understanding of an individual's capabilities and support needs.

This thorough assessment lays the groundwork for personalized care plans and interventions tailored to promote independence and enhance quality of life.

Tips for the ADL Checklist

Here are some tips to enhance the ADL checklist:

  • Tailor assistance to individual needs
  • Consider assisted living communities for additional support
  • Engage family members to understand routines and preferences
  • Ensure clear medication schedules and understanding
  • Use printable assessments to track progress effectively

By implementing these strategies, caregivers can ensure a comprehensive approach to assessing and supporting their loved ones in their daily activities.

How To Take the Next Steps

When it becomes evident that your loved one requires more attentive care than can be provided at home, exploring the option of an assisted living community becomes crucial.

The next steps involve assessing the level of care needed, researching suitable assisted living options, and scheduling consultations with representatives from potential communities.

Visiting the communities allows for firsthand observation and discussion of specific needs and preferences. Financial planning is essential to review costs and explore funding options to ensure affordability.

Transition planning involves coordinating logistics for moving and establishing a support network to ease the transition process. By following these steps, you can ensure a smooth transition to an assisted living community that provides the necessary care and support for your loved one's well-being.

Assisted Living at Clarendale Clayton

Assisted Living at Clarendale Clayton provides compassionate support to residents so they can live a vibrant life. Call us today at 314-742-9407 to learn more about how your loved one can thrive in Assisted Living in our community.