Elderly Woman Going Over Medicaid Planning PaperworkYou are starting to see signs that your elderly loved one is not managing daily tasks as well as they used to, but you aren’t sure just how bad it is and how much help they need. You want your loved one to live in the least restrictive environment possible, but how do you determine what that is? An Activities of Daily Living (ADL) assessment is a helpful tool for finding the best residential setting for your parent.

What Is an ADL Assessment?

An ADL assessment determines a person’s ability to properly care for themselves by evaluating their proficiency in several areas of daily living. When making a long-term care insurance claim or applying to live in an assisted living facility, your loved one might be given an ADL assessment by the decision-maker in the case. These programs might use their own experts to conduct an assessment or hire an outside assessor to determine your loved one’s needs and abilities so that they can make a decision about eligibility.

However, the evaluation can also be made by a variety of elder care specialists and medical professionals—such as a geriatric care manager, nurse, occupational therapist, or social worker—at your direction. These professionals will not only identify your loved one’s weaknesses, but they may also be able to determine the cause of their lapses and help you find potential solutions.

What Are Activities of Daily Living?

Once you are familiar with what will be assessed in an ADL evaluation, you can do an informal evaluation yourself to get an idea of how much help your loved one needs. Getting a baseline idea of your loved one’s abilities will make it easier for you to recognize signs of decline over time. There are many variations of ADL assessments, but most evaluators are looking at the following categories:

  • Personal hygiene. Is your loved one bathing, brushing their teeth, and taking care of their nails? If not, it may be possible to modify their bathroom with grab bars, non-slip floor mats, a shower chair, or other equipment to make personal care safer and easier for them. 
  • Dressing. Does your loved one seem to be wearing the same clothes every time you see them? It might be because other outfits are difficult for them to put on or fasten due to a decrease in flexibility and manual dexterity. Helping them find adaptive clothing can extend their independence.
  • Eating. Is your loved one eating regular meals? Seniors have a natural decline in appetite, but if your loved one is going an entire day without eating, it might be a good idea to help them shop for quick and easy meals or to enroll them in a meal delivery service so that they get the basic nutrition they need.
  • Continence and toileting. Incontinence is manageable for many seniors, but once a person is no longer cleaning themselves and can’t get on and off the toilet without difficulty, they might need intervention.
  • Mobility and transferring. Can your loved one stand from a sitting position, get in and out of bed, and walk from one location to another? As these abilities fail, total independence may no longer be an option.

If you are noticing lapses in these areas, it’s important to get a medical diagnosis. Failing to take care of ADLs can be the first sign of dementia or a mental health disorder, but it can also be an indication that your loved one simply needs some home modifications, help with housekeeping, a daily visit from an aide, or some other assistance that will allow them to stay in their home for as long as possible.

Are You Looking for an Elder Law Attorney in Texarkana, TX?

If you are looking for advice about your loved one’s care needs and how they will pay for the help they need, an experienced Elder Law attorney can help. Contact us online or call our Texarkana office directly at 903-223-5653. We also have offices in Tyler, Paris, and Longview, as well as Magnolia, AR!


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Kline Pillow helps clients in TX and AR planning for the aging process with a specialty in Guardianship cases.