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Activities of daily living

Activities of daily living (ADL), is a way to describe the functional status of a person. It is a tool in the biopsychosocial model of medicine, and is useful for assessing the elderly, the mentally ill, those with chronic diseases, and others.

This is seen to include a number of components, though these are not strict rules.

Table of contents
1 Basic ADL
2 Mobility
3 Instrumental ADL

Basic ADL

Can the person carry out fundamental activities of self-care. This includes activities such as bathing, feeding, going to the toilet, dressing, grooming and taking medication.


Refers to whether the person can get out of their house, and how they can travel by themselves.

Instrumental ADL

This includes activities not necessary for fundamental functioning, but still very useful in a community. Cooking, shopping, housework and transportation are in this category.

There are systems (such as the Katz ADL scale) that seek to quantify these functions and obtain a numerical value. These systems are useful for the prioritising of care and resources.

Generally though, these should be seen as rough guidelines for the assessment of a patient's ability to care for themselves.