As we age, it’s common for our ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) to decline. This can be due to health conditions, social isolation, or simply the natural process of aging. For families with older adults who may need help with ADLs, understanding what those activities are and how best to support your loved one is key.
What are Activities of Daily Living?
Activities of daily living include tasks such as eating, bathing and dressing oneself, driving a car, using the toilet, and managing medications. While these activities may seem simple enough on their own, there can be difficulty completing them independently when they are combined together. For example, an individual may have difficulty getting dressed if they cannot remember which clothes go together or how to fasten buttons or zippers. Similarly, someone might struggle with taking medications if they cannot remember when each pill needs to be taken or in what order multiple pills should be taken at once. These everyday activities can become increasingly difficult for older adults over time.
If you have a loved one who is having trouble with ADLs, there are a few strategies that you can use to provide support:
- Encourage them to stay active – physical activity can help maintain independence and reduce fatigue while performing ADLs. It’s also important that your loved one stays socially active by engaging in meaningful conversations and interactions with others. This will help keep them mentally sharp and alert while also reducing feelings of loneliness or isolation.
- Provide reminders – setting up reminders for medications or other tasks can be helpful for those struggling with memory loss or confusion about what needs to be done each day. This could include putting notes around the house that remind your loved one when it’s time for meals or medication doses so that they don’t forget.
- Help develop a routine – having a set routine that includes time for meals, exercise, rest periods and recreation helps ensure that all necessary tasks get done each day in an organized manner. The routine should also allow for flexibility since spontaneity is healthy too! Having regular check-ins throughout the day can also provide reassurance that everything is going according to plan and any potential problems are identified quickly before they become bigger issues down the line.
When the Time Comes for Additional Help
As the ability to manage ADLs decreases, a time will come when additional help is needed to help care for your aging family member. The first step we recommend is to reach out to us to engage the services we offer. First, we’ll meet with the family and the older adult to assess the current situation. Together, we’ll discuss options and recommendations. Depending on what their needs are, we may recommend ongoing care management. Coupled with that we can help families determine living needs such as bringing in home care assistance or even looking at housing options that would support their care and provide quality care.
While it’s normal for our ability to complete certain activities of daily living (ADLs) decline as we age, supporting our elderly loved ones during this process is essential if we want them to remain independent as long as possible without sacrificing their quality of life. By encouraging physical activity and social interaction while providing reminders and helping develop a routine tailored specifically for their needs, you will be able to maximize your loved one’s safety while allowing them continued autonomy over their lives—and peace of mind knowing they are receiving the care they need on a daily basis. Additionally, by involving the services of aging advisors such as a geriatric care manager or placement associate means that you have the professional guidance to determine the best care options available.