Caregiving 101

I have a senior family member that may be unsafe in their home. I want to make sure they are well taken care of and are happy.

“Mom’s losing it”; “Dad needs help”; “I’m really worried about mom and dad being alone”… These are often precipitating statements which can segue a senior into a new chapter of their life.

The needs of a senior typically appear slowly, making it difficult to determine when it is time for a family member or friend to step in and/or to offer assistance. Other times, needs show themselves dramatically, leaving no question that it is time for intervention. However, once the need is revealed, we will need to understand how to assist our elderly population. We hope you will find the following tools instrumental in helping you meet the needs of yourself or someone you care about.

Where do I begin?

Activities of Daily Living (ADL)

Please refer to the information, UNDERSTANDING THE TERM ADL and INSTRUMENTAL ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIVING (IADL) for a baseline understanding of common activities required for daily living. You will find that we take these abilities for granted and often realize that these basic learned activities can be taken away slowly or dramatically, making it difficult to live an ordinary life. How we approach simple needs may mean the difference between a senior accepting and rejecting much needed help.

The Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) are actions that are important to being able to live independently, but are not necessarily required activities on a daily basis. They are activities that can be completed by another to make living on your own possible.


Activities of Daily Living (ADL) refer to the basic activities performed by individuals on a day-to-day basis. Things like walking, eating, going to the bathroom, etc.

The following five categories are used by most professionals to determine the abilities of an individual to function independently.

1. Bathing
Ability to wash one’s own body.

2. Dressing
Clean clothing selection and ability to dress one’s self. This includes upper and lower body.

3. Grooming
Wash face, brush teeth, comb hair, etc.

4. Incontinence
Toileting (going to the bathroom) and/or the ability to self-manage incontinence needs.

5. Ambulate/Transfer
Ability to walk, stand or transfer from one place to another.


The instrumental activities are more subtle and can help more finely determine the level of assistance required by an elderly or disabled person. The IADL’s include:
1. Basic communication skills: using a telephone, hearing, speaking.

2. Transportation: ability to drive or arrange for a ride via taxi; use of public transportation.

3. Meal Preparation: meal planning, preparation and the ability to safely use kitchen equipment or to order food as necessary.

4. Shopping: ability to make appropriate food and clothing purchase decisions.

5. Housework: doing laundry and cleaning dishes.

6. Medication management: taking medication at the appropriate times and managing refills.

7. Managing finances: operating within a budget, writing checks, paying bills and avoiding scams.

Click here to download a checklist in order to assess an individual with their level of Activities of Daily Living tasks. For a professional assessment, please contact one of Monrovia Providers Groups’ Senior Needs Consultants.

For further understanding and coping with changes in older adults, please refer to our Making Changes page. The Monrovia Providers Group Members are here to help seniors and their care partners.

If you are looking for local companies serving seniors, you’ll find them here in our directory of trusted members:

If your company provides services to seniors in the San Gabriel Valley and beyond, please consider joining us at our meetings and helping the community.

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