Jun 13, 2022 11:00:00 AM | 6 Min Read

How Does Alzheimer's Affect ADLs and IALDs?

Posted By Vista Springs
How Does Alzheimer's Affect ADLs and IALDs?

As we age, we may experience issues with our cognitive abilities. While forgetting where we put our keys is normal for anyone, some seniors may have further complications, such as not remembering where they live. Unfortunately, these cognitive problems can signal the development of Alzheimer's disease.

This common disease affects someone's memory and cognitive functioning. While there are several symptoms of the disease, one of the more apparent signs involves the inability to complete activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).

This blog will cover how Alzheimer's disease impacts these essential activities, and we'll also talk about ways to combat the problem.

What Are ADLs and IADLs?

ADLs, or activities of daily living, are the basic everyday living tasks that people complete independently. These activities include:

  • Eating
  • Bathing
  • Getting dressed
  • Using the restroom
  • Walking around the house
  • Brushing teeth

Most people complete these tasks on their own without any assistance. However, if someone develops Alzheimer's disease, they may need help with these activities.

IADLs, or instrumental activities of daily living, refer to the activities related to maintaining a certain quality of life. These everyday tasks include:

  • Money management
  • Household cleaning
  • Home maintenance
  • Shopping
  • Cooking
  • Talking on the phone
  • Managing medications
  • Transportation

While ADLs are the basic functioning activities someone needs to survive, IADLs are more about well-being and quality of life. If someone cannot handle ADLs, they may need more hands-on care. Someone who struggles with IADLs may require some help occasionally, such as having someone shop for them.

Learn more about the basics of ADLs and IADLs.

Impact of Alzheimer's On ADLs and IADLs

When someone develops Alzheimer's disease, it can significantly impact everyday life. From difficulty cooking meals to issues taking medication, several daily tasks can become much more difficult.

Take a look at the specific areas impacted by this cognitive disease:


A senior with Alzheimer's may forget where they are or how to perform everyday tasks. It's common for Alzheimer's patients to have trouble remembering to take their medications. They may even forget the name of a family member or close friend.

Executive Functioning

Alzheimer's disease can severely impact the essential functions of everyday life. Someone may not understand how to wash the dishes, clean around the house, or even brush their teeth. It's also common to forget the steps of a specific task, such as getting dressed.


Alzheimer's patients may also have difficulties with attention. They may become distracted, making them unable to perform an essential activity. For example, they could have a hard time cleaning the house if there's music playing. Also, these patients often have problems focusing if they're tired or in any kind of pain.


The decision-making in these patients can lead to several issues with ADLs and IADLs. Impacted judgment can cause many problems. For example, an Alzheimer's patient may decide they don't need to eat for long periods, or they may choose to wear a winter jacket on a hot summer day. Unfortunately, these types of decisions can lead to dangerous situations.

Behavioral and Psychological Issues

On some occasions, Alzheimer's can lead to behavioral and psychological changes. These seniors may have more anger and even be reluctant to get help with ADLs. They may not fully understand why they need help, making things more difficult. For example, some may have no idea why they need assistance doing laundry or getting dressed.

How To Help Someone With These Concerns

Working with an Alzheimer's patient can be a steep mountain to climb. While loved ones usually step in to help, sometimes an aging senior should join an assisted living community to get the best care possible. Another option would be to hire professionals for in-home care.

Here are some tips on how to help an Alzheimer's patient experiencing problems with ADLs and IADLs:

  • Stay calm and never raise your voice
  • Be clear and concise when communicating
  • Give your loved one extra time
  • Find ways to limit stress
  • Try adding some humor when appropriate
  • Have them take breaks if needed
  • Encourage them when they're struggling
  • Try to follow the same routine every day
  • Offer your support at all times
  • Stay positive
  • Hire professionals if needed

ADLs and IADLs can be challenging for those with Alzheimer's disease. If you or your loved one is struggling with this health concern, it's crucial to have a solid support system. Also, if the condition is getting in the way of essential tasks like eating and getting dressed, professional assistance could be the answer. Consider choosing an assisted living community or in-home care to improve your loved one's quality of life.

Memory Care

Topics: Dementia & Alzheimer's, Memory Care

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