Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) are the everyday tasks people do to care for themselves. These activities are essential for maintaining a good quality of life and independence. Understanding ADLs can help you assess your needs or those of a loved one. Here, we’ll explore different categories of ADLs and provide examples to illustrate each.

activities of daily living

Personal Hygiene and Grooming

Personal Hygiene Activities

Maintaining personal hygiene is vital for health and well-being. Here are some basic activities involved in personal care:
  • Bathing and showering: Cleaning your body regularly.
  • Oral care: Brushing teeth and flossing to keep your mouth healthy.
  • Hair care: Washing, combing, and styling your hair.
  • Nail care: Trimming and cleaning your nails.
  • Skincare: Washing and moisturizing your skin.

Grooming Activities

Grooming helps you present yourself well and feel good about yourself. Here are some examples:
  • Shaving: Removing facial or body hair.
  • Applying makeup: Enhancing your facial features.
  • Dressing and undressing: Putting on and taking off clothes.


Dressing Activities

Choosing and wearing clothes is a daily task that everyone performs. It involves:
  • Selecting appropriate clothing: Based on weather and occasion.
  • Putting on and taking off clothes: Dressing and undressing.
  • Fastening buttons and zippers: Managing closures on clothing.
  • Tying shoelaces: Ensuring shoes are secure.
  • Adding accessories: Wearing belts, scarves, and hats.
Elderly person eating a healthy meal at a table with a glass of water.
Eating and drinking are essential activities of daily living that contribute to overall health and well-being

Eating and Drinking

Eating Activities

Eating and drinking are fundamental activities of daily living. Here’s what it includes:

  • Using utensils: Fork, spoon, and knife.
  • Cutting food: Making pieces manageable.
  • Feeding oneself: Bringing food to your mouth.
  • Drinking from a cup: Staying hydrated.
  • Managing dietary restrictions: Ensuring the food is safe.

Functional Mobility

Functional Mobility Activities

Moving around is key to independence. These activities cover a range of movements:

  • Getting in and out of bed: Starting and ending the day.
  • Sitting and standing from a chair: Changing positions.
  • Walking within the home: Moving around the house.
  • Navigating stairs: Going up and down steps.
  • Transferring: Moving from one place to another, like a bed to a chair.

Continence and Toileting

Continence Activities

Managing continence is an essential part of daily living. It involves:

  • Bladder and bowel control: Recognizing the bathroom need.
  • Maintaining hygiene: Cleaning up after toileting.

Toileting Activities

Using the toilet involves several steps:

  • Getting to and from the toilet: Walking to the bathroom.
  • Using toilet paper or wipes: Cleaning yourself.
  • Flushing the toilet: Ensuring cleanliness.
  • Managing clothing: Before and after using the toilet.

Meal Preparation and Clean-Up

Meal Preparation Activities

Preparing meals is a significant part of daily life. It includes:

  • Planning meals: Deciding what to eat.
  • Cooking and preparing food: Using ingredients to make meals.
  • Using kitchen appliances: Stoves, microwaves, and refrigerators.
  • Serving food: Plating and presenting meals.

Clean-Up Activities

Cleaning up after meals ensures a tidy space. Here’s what it involves:

  • Washing dishes: Cleaning utensils and cookware.
  • Cleaning kitchen surfaces: Wiping counters and tables.
  • Storing leftovers: Keeping food properly.
  • Taking out the trash: Removing waste from the kitchen.
Elderly person vacuuming a clean and organized living room.
Housekeeping and home maintenance are crucial for a clean and comfortable living environment.

Housekeeping and Home Maintenance

Housekeeping Activities

Keeping a clean home is important for comfort and safety. Here are some examples:
  • Dusting and vacuuming: Removing dust and dirt.
  • Sweeping and mopping floors: Keeping floors clean.
  • Laundry: Washing, drying, folding, and ironing clothes.
  • Changing bed linens: Ensuring clean bedding.
  • Organizing living spaces: Tidying up rooms.

Home Maintenance Activities

Basic home upkeep is part of daily living. It includes:
  • Light bulb replacement: Keeping the house well-lit.
  • Basic home repairs: Fixing minor issues.
  • Yard work: Mowing lawns and raking leaves.
  • Taking care of pets: Feeding and cleaning after animals.

Shopping and Managing Finances

Shopping Activities

Shopping is a key part of daily tasks. It involves:
  • Creating a shopping list: Planning purchases.
  • Grocery shopping: Buying food and essentials.
  • Purchasing household items: Getting supplies for the home.
  • Managing online shopping: Ordering items over the internet.

Managing Finances Activities

Handling money is vital for independence. Here are some examples:
  • Budgeting and tracking expenses: Managing income and spending.
  • Paying bills: Ensuring timely payments.
  • Handling bank transactions: Depositing and withdrawing money.
  • Managing subscriptions: Keeping track of services.

Transportation and Community Mobility

Transportation Activities

Getting around is crucial for maintaining independence. It includes:
  • Driving or arranging transportation: Getting to places.
  • Using public transit: Buses and trains.
  • Navigating the community: Walking to local spots.
  • Attending appointments: Making it to scheduled meetings.

Community Mobility Activities

Being active in the community enhances the quality of life. Here’s what it involves:
  • Navigating through crowded places: Moving in busy areas.
  • Accessing community services: Using local facilities.
  • Participating in activities: Joining community programs.
Group of elderly friends talking and laughing at a coffee shop.
Social engagement and communication are vital for mental health and overall well-being.

Social Engagement and Communication

Social Engagement Activities

Staying socially active is important for mental health. Examples include:
  • Initiating conversations: Starting discussions.
  • Participating in social activities: Joining clubs or groups.
  • Using technology: Communicating via phone, email, or social media.

Communication Activities

Effective communication is essential for daily living. It involves:
  • Expressing needs and preferences: Let others know what you want.
  • Understanding and responding: Interacting with others.
  • Managing written communication: Writing letters and messages.
Elderly person smiling and looking content in a well-lit living room.
Supporting ADLs can enhance independence and improve quality of life.


Understanding and supporting ADLs can help maintain independence and improve the quality of life. Whether assessing your needs or helping a loved one, focusing on these activities can make daily living more manageable and enjoyable. Small steps in daily tasks can lead to significant improvements in overall well-being.

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