Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) are those activities that allow an individual to live independently in a community. Examples of IADLs include cooking, cleaning, transportation, laundry, and managing finances. IADLs are commonly assessed to determine the level of an individual’s cognitive function and need for assistance. Think of someone’s ability to follow a recipe or accurately pay bills. Challenges in doing either of those often can be a sign of cognitive issues.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) are bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, eating. Difficulties in performing ADLs, which are basic functioning, often indicate the need for professional assistance, either with an aide at home, or relocating to a residential community such as an assisted living or skilled nursing facility

Many people first recognize that their parents need help when the IADLs start to fall apart. One of the first signs, for example, is when someone gets financially scammed or pays certain bills multiple times and other bills not at all.

Recognition of difficulties with the ADLs often comes later. For example, having difficulty transferring from the bed to a standing position to a chair usually isn’t the very first sign that something’s wrong. Recognizing that someone no longer remembers how to cook certainly comes earlier than someone no longer remembering how to eat.