Navigating the Maze of Medical Terminolgy: What the Heck is an ADL?

The doctors and nurses are telling you that because your dad has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, he will not be able to perform his ADLs very well without getting short of breath. You nod in acceptance but all the time you are wondering: What the heck are they talking about?

adl defines ADL as: “The things we normally do in daily living including any daily activity we perform for self-care such as feeding ourselves, bathing, dressing, grooming, work, homemaking, and leisure.” In other words, they stand for activities of daily living.

When a patient has been diagnosed with a serious disease like congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), fractured bone, or has had major surgery, they can become debilitated or weakened. The elderly have an even harder time recovering and activities that you and I take for granted like getting to the bathroom or putting on a shirt become a major obstacle.

If Dad’s decrease in the ability to perform his normal ADLs is temporary, the physician may recommend a short stay in a rehab or skilled nursing unit or home health care depending on the patient’s support system and level of disability. Make sure you include Dad in the decision making process. Making sure you are next to him, ask him to walk from his bed to the bathroom (if allowed to get out of bed). Have him show you how he can put on and take off his shirt. Returning home may be what you and Dad want, but more importantly is his safety.

If Dad is not expected to regain his normal level of activity, you may need to consider other options. If you are thinking of bringing him home to live with you, make sure you read my prior column.


One thought on “Navigating the Maze of Medical Terminolgy: What the Heck is an ADL?

  1. Pingback: Are You Prepared to be a Caregiver? – Home Health RN

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