Activities of Daily Living – ADLs

Activities of Daily Living - A List and Definition of Activities of Daily Living


There are six (6) basic ADLs commonly accepted when considering senior care and often insurance requirements (i.e. Medicare, Medicaid or long-term care insurance). These are:


Eating - being able to feed oneself, feeding oneself by getting food into the body from a receptacle or by a feeding tube or intravenously.

Bathing - includes grooming activities such as shaving, and brushing teeth and hair, washing oneself by sponge bath or in the bathtub or shower.

Dressing - choosing appropriate garments and being able to dress and undress, having no trouble with buttons, zippers or other fasteners, putting on and taking off any necessary braces, fasteners, or artificial limbs

Toileting - being able to use the toilet

Transferring - being able to walk, or, if not ambulatory, being able to transfer oneself from bed to wheelchair and back. Moving into and out of a bed, chair, or wheelchair.

Continence - being able to control one’s bowels and bladder, or manage one’s incontinence independently.

ADLs are defined as "the things we normally do... such as feeding ourselves, bathing, dressing, grooming, work, homemaking, and leisure." They are basic self-care tasks, akin to the kinds of skills that people usually learn in early childhood. For seniors they include feeding, toileting, selecting proper attire, grooming, maintaining continence, putting on clothes, bathing, walking and transferring (such as moving from bed to wheelchair).

While basic definitions of ADLs have been suggested, what specifically constitutes a particular ADL for each individual may vary.