Dementia & ADLs: Understanding the Way that Dementia Can Affect ADLs

Dementia-ADLs-Understanding-the-Way-that-Dementia-Can-Affect-ADLs - Elderly care

Elderly Assistance Services

According to the World Health Organization, there are nearly 10 million new cases of dementia every year. With such a high percentage, it’s imperative for all caregivers to familiarize themselves with the common symptoms of dementia patients. This includes understanding the detrimental effect this disease can have on a loved one’s ADLs. 

For those caregiving for a loved one with dementia, here is a breakdown of the connection between dementia and lessened ADLs. 

What are ADLs?

ADL is an acronym for the activities of daily living. Quite simply, they are the daily ways in which we care for ourselves. The most common ADLs that are referenced are eating, dressing, grooming, bathing, and toileting.

How Does Dementia Affect ADLs? 

As dementia is a progressive disease, the ADLs that are affected can vary based on where the individual is in their care journey. Quite often, dementia can cause an individual to either do their ADLs ineffectively, halfway, or not do them at all. This is because dementia causes decay within the brain, stalling functioning. Here are a few ways that dementia can affect ADLs.

Impaired Memory

Your loved one’s impaired memory may cause them to forget an ADL or stop the activity halfway through. This could be seen by neglecting to brush their hair, or forgetting to do it halfway through.

Executive Functioning

One of the most common ways dementia affects ADLs is through executive functioning. This is understanding the sequencing of events that need to happen for an activity. 

For example, washing dishes is an activity that consists of a sequence of smaller activities. You need to turn the sink on, lather the sponge, clean the dish, rinse, and set it to dry. Those living with dementia may have difficulty understanding that exact sequence, and may find themselves skipping steps along the way. 

Behavioral Changes

With dementia also comes behavioral changes and mood swings. It’s simple, when our brain’s chemistry undergoes a change, this often correlates with a mood shift. You may find your loved one actively resisting to do an ADL. For example, they could resist help grooming, angrily refusing the assistance from a home health aide. 


A main component of daily living is the ability to make judgment calls. As dementia appears, so does the lessened ability to make fair judgments. An individual could have their air conditioning on full blast and assume that it will be equally cold outside, even though it is a balmy summer day. 

Thanks to our friends at Expicare Nursing for their expertise in elderly assistance services and home health care.

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