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The Activities of Daily Living (ADL) Checklist

senior man in assisted living with caregiver

Moving into an assisted living community comes with so many benefits. You’re surrounded by a compassionate community, have peace of mind from the secure environment, and receive quality care services to improve your lifestyle. Some of those services may include assistance with activities of daily living.

As you or your loved one ages, it’s normal to require help with these activities. You or a concerned family member may have noticed your loved one’s ability to perform these activities has declined, and that’s where the support of a trusted senior living community comes in.

Creating an activities of daily living checklist can help with understanding what tasks your loved one can do on their own vs. what they need assistance with. It also can help determine their ability to live independently or whether they would benefit from assisted living.

senior woman with caregiver walking down the hallway

What Are ADLs?

ADLs are activities of daily living – or tasks you need to do every day to live a healthy life. These activities include:

  • Dressing – choosing appropriate clothes and getting dressed
  • Feeding – the ability to feed yourself and eat food without difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Personal Hygiene – this includes all types of personal care like dental hygiene, bathing, nail care, brushing hair and teeth – anything to do with personal maintenance
  • Using the Restroom – the ability to get to and use the bathroom on one’s own and control one’s bladder and bowels
  • Functional Mobility – this is a person’s ability to move safely, like getting up from a chair, walking, and getting in and out of bed

What Are IADLs?

Instrumental activities of daily living are more complex tasks that improve your everyday life and typically require more thinking to complete.

  • Shopping – being able to buy yourself groceries involves making a list of what you need, getting to the market, gathering and paying for the items, and returning home and using them when you cook
  • Cooking – this is the ability to complete the task of meal preparation through use of kitchen items like knives, managing the stove and oven, and cleaning the kitchen after using it
  • Medication – taking the correct medication at the right time and right dosage
  • Communication – using the phone, email and mail
  • Household Management – while this entails keeping up with laundry, vacuuming, and dusting, it also applies to home maintenance and making sure the house is a safe place to live
  • Managing Finances – managing assets and paying bills

ADL Checklist

When it comes to checking someone’s ADL abilities, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a black-and-white situation of what they can or cannot do. ADL assessments also take degrees of ability into account.

For example, your loved one may not have an issue with mobility or getting dressed, but tying their laces on their shoes may be difficult. In this case, slip-on or velcro sneakers may be the small adjustment they need to continue to thrive.

You can break down the checklist into three categories:

  • Requires no help – full independence
  • Requires some help – this may come from modifications
  • Requires help to complete task

Your checklist will include all the tasks that fall under the ADLs and IADLs discussed above. It’s important to think about all the small things.

senior man with his caregiver at Presbyterian Homes Lake Forest Place

ADL and IADL Checklist Questions:

Getting Dressed:

  • Can your loved one get dressed and undressed?
  • Can your loved one choose weather-appropriate clothing?


  • Can your loved one get in and out of bed?
  • Can they stand up and sit down on their own?
  • Can your loved one walk around the house? What about around the block?
  • Can they walk up and down stairs?


  • Does your loved one cook meals safely – using kitchen tools and appliances?
  • Do they clean up the kitchen afterward?


Can your loved one eat without difficulty, including chewing, swallowing, and using kitchen utensils?

Household Cleaning:

Can your loved one keep their space tidy and safe?

Personal Grooming:

Can your loved one brush their hair?

Can your loved one brush and floss their teeth?

Can they shave?

Can they trim their nails?


Can your loved one get in and out of the shower or tub?

Can they clean themselves?

Can they select a safe water temperature?


Can your loved one get to the bathroom?

Can they sit and stand from the toilet?

Can your loved one clean themselves?

Can your loved one control bladder and bowel function?


Can your loved one go shopping for their food, essential items, and other things they need or want?


Can your loved one use a phone to call or text?

Can your loved one use the internet and email?

Can your loved one use the mail system?

Medication Management:

Can your loved one pick up their medication?

Can your loved one take the correct medication at the correct dosage?

Can your loved one take medication at the right time of day (i.e., the directions say to take the medicine in the morning, but after eating a meal, or on an empty stomach)?

Financial Management:

Can your loved one stick to a budget?

Can your loved one pay bills on time?


Can your loved one drive or arrange transportation?

Download your printable Activities of Daily Living Checklist here!


How To Take the Next Step

If you find your loved one needs help with their ADLs, seeking an assisted living community that will support them and provide them with a high quality of life may give both of you peace of mind.

The Highlands Assisted Living at Lake Forest Place supports residents to keep them as active and independent as possible while offering compassionate assistance where it is needed.

Residents at The Highlands Assisted Living have access to a number of enriching amenities and services so they can live their best lives at Lake Forest Place. From classes to outings to using the state-of-the-art fitness center – there’s always something interesting happening at The Highlands.

The Highlands Assisted Living offers direct admissions without the cost of a large upfront entrance fee. Older adults can move in and start getting the care they deserve.

Call The Highlands Assisted Living at Lake Forest Place to learn about our direct admissions and take a tour of our community.