Iowa Geriatric Education Center Iowa Geriatric Education Center

Standardized Patient Actor Training

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Section 2 - Assessment of Activities of Daily Living


Function is the ability to adapt to the environment and perform activities of daily living, or the things that people need to do every day. Doctors think about activities of daily living in three levels:

  1. Advanced activities of daily living. These include such high-level functions as:
    • Being gainfully employed
    • Hobbies
    • Socializing and involvement in activities in the community
  1. Intrumental activities of daily living. These mid-level day-to-day tasks including:
    • Shopping
    • Cleaning
    • Cooking
    • Driving
    • Managing financial matters
  1. Basic activities of daily living. Examples include:
    • Eating
    • Dressing
    • Bathing
    • Toileting

For people to do all of these activities well, they have to have the mental and physical abilities to do them. They must also have access to resources and opportunities that allow them to do these activities. Some resources and opportunities may help to compensate for lost abilities, such as when a spouse cooks for a person who can no longer do this alone. Finally, in order to do these activities of daily living, people must be motivated to do them.

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