How do I judge that Mom is no longer able to perform a...

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 11, 2016
Kevinlingle asked...

How do I judge that Mom is no longer able to perform a specific ADL (activity of daily living)? If I have to help at all with an activity, does that mean she can no longer perform that activity? For example, what would you say about my having to 1) help Mom get off the toilet (8 of 10 times), 2) occasionally helping with wiping, and 3) frequently having to clean up from her not positioning herself squarely on the toilet (ie, urine on the floor)? Would that describe a toileting ADL that is no longer being performed adequately by her?


Expert Answers

Deborah Cooke is a gerontologist specializing in dementia, delirium, caregiving, and senior fitness. She is a certified dementia care provider and specialist through the Alzheimer's Foundation of America. Cooke currently manages several multidisciplinary programs to enhance well-being for hospitalized seniors and other vulnerable patients at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. She also serves on the board of NewYork-Presbyterian's Patient and Family Education Advisory Committee. She has 18 years of experience working with the aging and caregiver communities.

From what you have said, your mom does not have the ability to perform this task on her own. ADLs typically indicate decline in function; however, they can improve with rehabilitation from physical and occupational therapy. When a person is asked about ADLs, it typically falls under three categories: independent, help (even a little), and unable. It sounds like your mom is in the help category.

What does this mean for you? You are stressed and probably tired of helping her with this task. I applaud you for being so dedicated.

ADLs also include dressing, bathing, grooming, and walking. Think about her level on these tasks too. You may be ready for more professional help.

I hope this helps and wish you the best of luck and rest.