Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

pp 1-3

Date: Latest Version

Activities of Daily Living (ADL)

  • Angela K. TroyerAffiliated withNeuropsychology and Cognitive Health program, Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care Email author 


Adaptive functions; Functional abilities


Activities of daily living (ADLs) are self-care activities that are important for health maintenance and independent living. ADLs comprise a broad spectrum of activities, traditionally classified as basic and instrumental ADLs (BADLs and IADLs, respectively). BADLs, also called physical or self-maintenance ADLs, are life-sustaining self-care activities such as feeding, grooming, bathing, dressing, toileting, and ambulation. IADLs are more complex activities that are necessary for independent living, such as using the telephone, preparing meals, shopping, managing finances, taking medications, arranging appointments, and driving. These activities are important for participating in one’s usual work, social, or leisure roles.

Historical Background

The evolution of the concept of ADLs is reflected in the development of instruments to measure these abilities. Measures of BADLs were first developed in the 1940s and 1950s, primarily to d ...

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