ADLs are defined as “things we normally do, such as feeding ourselves, bathing, dressing, grooming, work, homemaking and leisure.” . The concept of ADLs were originally suggested by Dr Sidney Katz and his fellow researchers  as a means of treating and providing care to older adults who require long term service and support. Think of ADLs as a list of high level tasks that people perform on a daily basis. Depending on how well someone is able to perform these tasks, a trained professional could assess their ability to care for themselves. If they are unable to perform these tasks “well”, then assistance can be provided. These activities are usually defined as: 
From this fundamental list of ADLs, researchers have adapted and added other activities that demonstrate the range of activities an individual may perform to live independently in a community. This list is commonly referred to as Instrumental ADLs (IADLs), and contains: 
As you can see, combining the list of activities, a fairly substantial list of tasks an individual performs in a day is defined. But why is this definition important? As mentioned being able to quantify what a person does, a qualitative ranking can be assigned to assess an individual’s well being.
These activities have been adapted for use in geriatric care, dementia care, physical therapy assistance, youth care and disabled care.
Now traditionally ADLs and IADLs have been used to assess capability and well being (medical) of individuals within the home and community. But what if we expanded and adapted these activities for use in tomorrow’s “Internet of Things” connected smart homes?
As part of my research, I am looking at Activity Detection using low cost sensors in the context of Smart Homes. As part of that work, I am interested with detection of ADLs and IADLs as well as an activities that are traditionally outside the scope of medical concern.
These activities don’t greatly impact on a person’s wellbeing and aren’t an indication of a person’s ability to function within the community. Instead these activities are commonly performed by the “average joe” and could be detected using sensors. These activities include:
The activity that I find the most interesting within the list is Digital Interaction. This is a very broad activity and covers interactions such as:
Social Media Interaction now consumes a substantial amount of time amongst “Millennials” and “Gen Zers” . Social Media Interaction includes things like checking and updating Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and other platforms. Social Media Interaction makes up a large portion of Digital Interaction.
For now, this is as far as I have progressed with my research. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or leave a comment.
Header image courtesy of Ian Dooley.
Thanks to Rodney Pilgrim, Andrew Simmons and Niroshinie Fernando for proof reading and providing suggestions.