Your ADL's and IADL's
Sometimes people think that the only time to start seeking help for their Mom or Dad is when they need assistance with their ADL's or activities of daily living.
But, in fact, the first indication of when your loved one may need help is when they start to need assistance with their IADL's or instrumental activities of daily living.
What are the differences between your ADL's and IADL's and what do these acronyms mean?
The term "activities of daily living," or ADL's, refers to the basic tasks of everyday life, such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and transferring.
"Instrumental activities of daily living," or IADL's are activities related to independent living and include preparing meals, managing money, shopping for groceries or personal items, performing light or heavy housework, doing laundry, and using a telephone.
For instance, you notice that your Mom or Dad is having more difficulty balancing their checkbook. Can you offer to assist them with this task? How about hiring a daily money manager to assist with the organization of their financial paperwork and financial-related tasks? Daily money managers can assist with bill-paying (including calls to payees regarding incorrect bills) and preparation of checks for clients to sign, balancing checkbooks and maintaining organization of bank records, preparing and delivering of bank deposits, organization of tax documents and other paperwork, deciphering medical insurance papers and verifying proper processing of claims, general organization assistance, and providing referrals to legal, tax, and investment professionals.
Here are other warning signs that your parents may need help (sooner than you thought):
- Your Mom or Dad claim that they eat three meals a day, but their refrigerator is filled with spoiled food and their pantry remains stocked with food that you purchased for them two weeks ago.
- You observe that your parents are eating only frozen food dinners or canned soup, and not any fresh fruit or produce.
- You notice that they're having more difficulty climbing up and down stairs.
- You see that the dust seems to be accumulating, and you know that your parents have always been meticulous when it came to the maintenance of their home.
- Your parents' loss of vision or their arthritis makes it difficult for them to drive, even short distances.
If you see that your loved ones are having trouble with their IADL's, you have some options to help them out.
One option is home care agencies. Home care agencies can employ companions and caregivers to assist Mom or Dad with tasks that they may have difficulty completing, such as meal preparation, grocery shopping, light housekeeping, laundry, and driving.
In addition, independent personal assistants and concierges can also assist with the tasks above, while also taking the extra step to schedule your doctors' appointments and escorting you to these appointments.
As a caregiver, you want to be proactive in anticipating your loved one's needs and preventing any future risks for injuries or falls. Noticing that your loved one needs assistance with their IADL's should be the first indication to start putting measures in place to help them.