ARTICLE | INSTRUMENTAL ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIVING

Family Care Teams & Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

Key Takeaways

  • IADLs Are Essential: Tasks like managing finances and transportation are vital for independence and quality of life.
  • Family Care Team Impact: Two-thirds of aging adults rely exclusively on family caregivers for assistance with daily living activities.
  • Caregivers Foster Independence: Their support enables loved ones to manage complex tasks and maintain dignity in daily life.

From managing finances to transportation and meal preparation, instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) encompass the essential skills required for maintaining autonomy and quality of life. For most, behind every IADL is the guiding hand of a caregiver, who are often overlooked and forgotten.

Two-thirds of aging adults rely exclusively on family caregivers for assistance with daily living activities.

These informal care teams, made up of loved ones, friends, and family, are the bridge between clinical and non-clinical care, ensuring patients have what they need to safely age in place and access the social determinants of health.

Let’s dig into the critical role caregivers play in fostering independence and dignity for those struggling with independence and IADLs.

While BADLs are more commonly thought of when a patient relies on a loved one for care, before this more hands-on support is needed, many care recipients will need help with higher-level needs, for complex activities that can become complicated as cognitive declines occur. These are tasks that allow a patient to continue managing their own affairs, and key to independent living.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) include

This type of support, or IADLs, include:

  • Managing finances: This includes the ability to pay bills and manage financial assets, as well as health insurance payments after hospital admissions, procedures, or provider appointments
  • Shopping and meal preparation: Everything required to get a meal on the table. This also includes shopping for clothing and other personal items that are a part of daily life
  • Housecleaning and home maintenance: Keeping living areas clean and clutter-free for safety and sanitary reasons. Also, keeping up with home maintenance like lawn care, small repairs, etc.
  • Managing communication with others: For care recipients who may be unable to manage both personal and health-related communications via phone, or electronic means including text or email.
  • Managing medications: The ability to obtain prescriptions from the pharmacy, manage the dosages and timing, and take as directed by physician. This may also include documentation of any side effects.

These tasks can become overwhelming to caregivers quickly, especially those who also work a full-time job or are part of the Sandwich Generation– raising their own children while also caring for aging parents. Balancing these realities can lead to burnout, exhaustion, and emotional fatigue.

Supporting these family care teams isn’t just about recognizing this instrumental support; it’s about promoting the well-being of both caregivers and care recipients alike. Without caregivers, patients needing assistance with these activities of daily living would struggle to stay healthy and productive. Family care teams play a crucial role in fostering independence and dignity.

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Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) encompass the essential skills required for maintaining autonomy and quality of life. For most, behind every IADL is the guiding hand of a caregiver, who are often overlooked and forgotten.