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Activities of daily living (ADLs or ADL) is a term used in healthcare to refer to people's daily self-care activities. Health professionals often use a person's ability or inability to perform ADLs as a measurement of their functional status. The concept of ADLs was originally proposed in the 1950s by Sidney Katz and his team at the Benjamin Rose Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. The concept of ADLs has been added to and refined by a variety of researchers since that time. For example, many indexes that assess ADLs now include some measure of mobility. Additionally, to be more inclusive of the range of activities that support independent living, in 1969, Lawton and Brody developed the instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). ADLs are often used in the care of people with disabilities, people with injuries, and elderly people. Younger children often require help from adults to perform ADLs, as they have not yet developed the skills necessary to perform them independently.
Common ADLs include feeding oneself, bathing, dressing, grooming, work, homemaking, cleaning oneself after urinating and defecating, and leisure. A number of national surveys have collected data on the ADL status of the U.S. population. While basic definitions of ADLs have been suggested, what specifically constitutes a particular ADL for each individual may vary. Some factors that influence peoples' perception of their function level include culture and education.
ADLs are categorized into basic, self-care tasks acquired starting from infancy, and instrumental, tasks learned throughout adolescence. A person who cannot perform essential ADLs may have poorer quality of life or be unsafe in their current living conditions; therefore, they may require the help of other individuals and/or mechanical devices. Examples of mechanical devices to aid in ADLs include electric lifting seats, bathtub transfer benches, and ramps to replace stairs.