Getting Your Loved One the Care They Need 

Helping a loved one navigate the world of Medicare or Medicaid involves becoming familiar with a variety of acronyms, including ADL and IADL. While these two may sound similar, knowing the difference determine what type of care your loved one can get — and whether it’s covered.


ADL stands for Activities of Daily Living. There are six basic ADLs, which relate to the tasks a person’s must be able to do to take basic care of themselves.

The ADLs are:

  1. Personal grooming, which include brushing one’s teeth, combing one’s hair, and, for men, shaving. Personal grooming is usually the first ADL to be lost during the aging process.
  2. Bathing includes washing one’s face, as well as bathing and showering independently.
  3. Dressing involves the ability to dress and undress oneself, as well as the ability to choose appropriate clothing to wear.
  4. Toileting involves getting to the toilet on time, being able to clean oneself, and the ability to get up from the toilet.
  5. Mobility is a broad category that includes walking and getting in and out of a chair or a bed. However, a person who is confined to a wheelchair is not necessarily immobile. For those who are wheelchair-bound, mobility refers to the ability to transfer oneself in and out of the wheelchair.
  6. Eating is the ability to feed oneself. This is usually the last ADL an elderly person loses.


IADL stands for Instrumental Activities of Daily Living. While ADLs are basic tasks, IADLs are more sophisticated, but are still required for independent living. ADLs involve physical self-care, but IADLs require higher-level thinking skills, including organization.

ADLs and IADLs are seldom assessed together, since their implications are different. A person who cannot perform ADLs will need much more hands-on help than one who has trouble with IADLs.

It is important to note that IADLs do not necessarily need to be accomplished independently. Some, such as housecleaning, can be delegated. The essence of an IADL is that the person is able to ensure that the task is done safely and effectively.

The IADLs are:

  1. Money management, includes paying bills on time, and otherwise and making responsible decisions about money. Someone who cannot properly perform the IADL of money management is more likely to fall for a scam, or otherwise be taken advantage of financially.
  2. Meal preparation, includes shopping for and preparing appropriate meals.
  3. Home maintenance includes upkeep of the home, keeping the home clean, and doing laundry.
  4. Transportation refers to the ability to drive or use other transportation to travel outside the home. It is different from the ADL of mobility, which refers to the person’s ability to move themselves inside the home.
  5. Communication refers to the ability to use the telephone, as well as other modes of communication such as mail service and, for those who were accustomed to doing so, to using email.
  6. Medication management includes being able to assure that all required medications are always on hand, and being able to take them as directed.

Click here for a complete checklist of ADLs and IADLs.

If your loved one has difficulty with ADLs or IADLs, they may be eligible for assistance through Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance. However, the guidelines are complex, and also take into account the age of the patient, whether they are recovering from surgery, and whether they are expected to ever improve.

If you need help negotiating the complex eldercare maze, contact us at Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ. Our care programs are designed specifically to meet the unique needs and interests of seniors and long-term care patients. We emphasize restorative care, maximizing each patient’s potential to regain and maintain function and mobility.

We foster an environment that is cheerful and enthusiastic, so residents truly relish and appreciate life.

Our outstanding Social Services team works hard to ensure that every resident thrives socially, emotionally, and spiritually.

We promote a culture of independence, crucial for emotional, social, and physical health. Residents are encouraged to choose their activity and meal preferences, and to perform tasks and activities as self-sufficiently as possible.

We carefully select, train and re-train our wonderful caregivers, who are especially sensitive to the needs of our long-term care patients. They treat residents with love, compassion, and dignity.

Read our reviews on,, and to hear what our residents and their families have to say.

Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 609-588-5800 or by clicking here.

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