In medicine, ADL stands for "activities of daily life," tasks that humans must perform every day to survive and stay healthy. Lists of ADLs vary, but they generally include the following:

  1. dressing (can the person change clothes without help?)
  2. eating (can the person eat without assistance, even if the food has already been prepared?)
  3. ambulating (can the patient get from place to place, whether by walking or using a cane, walker, or wheelchair?)
  4. toileting (can the patient use the toilet by himself/herself?)
  5. hygiene (can the person take a shower, brush his/her teeth, etc.?)

Doctors, physical therapists, and psychologists often assess ADLs so that they can judge the severity of a patient's illness and recommend the proper level of care. A patient who has trouble with even one ADL generally needs frequent or constant care in a setting such as a nursing home.

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