Activities of Daily Living actividades de la vida diaria

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs): Definition, classification and exercises

Do you know what activities of daily living are? Do you know the difference between basic and instrumental activities of daily living? Do you know how to improve ADLs? In today’s post, we explain what activities of daily living are, their classification, and also recommend several exercises for improving them.

What are activities of daily living?

ADLs are all those tasks of everyday life which have a specific value and meaning to individuals, as well as purpose.

Occupations are central to a person’s identity and competence, and they influence how one spends time and makes decisions.

 How are activities of daily living classified?

ADLs are divided into the following categories:

1. Basic Activities of Daily Living :

Basic Activities of Daily Living (BADLs) are activities oriented toward taking care of one’s own body.

Basic activities of daily living include:
  • Bathing / showering
  • Bowel and bladder management
  • Dressing
  • Eating
  • Feeding
  • Functional mobility
  • Personal device care
  • Personal hygiene and grooming
  • Sexual activity
  • Sleep / rest
  • Toilet hygiene

2. Instrumental Activities of Daily Living:

IADLs are activities oriented toward interacting with the environment; they are often complex, and they are generally optional in nature since they may be delegated to another.

Instrumental activities of daily living include:
  • Care of others (including selecting and supervising caregivers)
  • Care of pets
  • Child rearing
  • Communication device use
  • Community mobility
  • Financial management
  • Health management and maintenance
  • Home establishment and management
  • Meal preparation and cleanup
  • Safety procedures and emergency responses
  • Shopping

3. Education

Activities needed for being a student and participating in a learning environment.

  • Formal educational participation
  • Exploration of informal personal educational needs or interests
  • Informal personal education participation

4. Work

Activities needed for engaging in remunerative employment or volunteer activities.

  • Employment interests and pursuits
  • Seeking and acquisition
  • Job performance
  • Retirement preparation and adjustment
  • Volunteer exploration
  • Volunteer participation

5. Play

Any spontaneous or organized activity that provides enjoyment, entertainment, amusement, or diversion.

  • Play exploration
  • Play participation

6. Leisure

Nonobligatory activities that are intrinsically motivated and engaged in during discretionary time, that is, time not committed to obligatory occupations such as work, self-care, or sleep.

  • Leisure exploration
  • Leisure participation

7. Social Participation

Activities associated with organized patterns of behavior that are characteristic and expected of an individual or an individual interacting with others within a given social system.

  • Community
  • Family
  • Peers / friends

How can activities of daily living be improved?

Next, we introduce several exercises developed by NeuronUP for improving basic and instrumental activities of daily living.

5 Exercises for improving activities of daily living

1. Getting Dressed

Activities of Daily Living

This first exercise is a good example to work basic activities of daily living, and is ideal for working with Alzheimer’s patients. This task involves dressing a doll figure appropriately, by taking into account both the part of the body where each item goes and dressing in a sequential fashion, as well as selecting clothing appropriate to occasion. This activity focuses on procedural memory, body schema, ideational praxissemantic memory, and planning.

If you would like to try this or other NeuronUP activities of daily living, just request a free demo by clicking here:


2. ATM Withdrawal

Activities of Daily Living

This second exercise is a simulation of an instrumental activity of daily living. Clients easily work on how to withdraw money from an ATM so that in the future, they can perform again this task with a real ATM. This activity targets planning in particular.

3. Dishwasher

 Activities of Daily Living

In this example, a simulator is used to learn how to use a dishwasher, while selecting the different programs accordingly. This exercise mainly focuses on executive functions.

4. Recycling

Activities of Daily Living

This activity of daily living involves putting different types of waste in the proper bin or container.

  • Yellow bin: containers (cans and plastic)
  • Blue bin: paper and cardboard
  • Green bin: glass
  • Dark green/red bin: organic waste

This activity trains memory and reasoning.

5. Microwave

A simulator for learning how to use a microwave by heating up the different foods on display. Once again, this exercise for improving instrumental activities of daily living aims to enhance executive functions.

If you would like to try this or other NeuronUP activities of daily living, just request a free demo by clicking here:


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