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Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) The simplified meaning beyond any individual ADL is the need for assistance with a physical and / or cognitive task. Insurance companies use the need for ADL’s in defining the terms to qualify for benefits or if they will pay for added help that the individual requires. For payment of insurance benefits it is crucial that your doctor understands the use of ADL’s and puts those terms in your record / the notes to ensure you qualify for the benefits you need. ADL’s vs IADL’s ADL’s are the most basic functions and need to be distinguished from IADL’s or Independent Activities of Daily Living. (See also IADLs) IADL’s typically require more physical / mobility and cognitive function like making out a check, using the phone or shopping. IADL’s are typically affected earlier than ADL’s and are earlier indicators of aging and increasing risk for needing more care for any person with one or more chronic illnesses including memory loss and Dementia.