The Elder Care Continuum is a kind of map, a diagnostic tool that helps families understand the specific situation of the elder for whom they are seeking support. Locating the elder’s place on the map helps families more easily identify the decisions they need to make. The tool creates a shared document to which families and Elder Care Professionals can refer as the client-elder’s situation changes. It is a timeline along which the client-elder is moving at this stage of his or her life.
Ideally, most of us would like to “age in place, ” living independently in our own homes until we die peacefully in bed. Some people have the good fortune to depart this life in this manner, but many do not. Instead, they may have Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, suffer a disabling stroke, become frail, or otherwise find themselves moving down the elder care continuum. They find that they need assistance with activities of daily living.
The term “activities of daily living” (ADL), refers to the basic tasks of everyday life, such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and transferring. When people are unable to perform these activities, they need help in order to cope, either from other human beings or mechanical devices or both. Instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) are activities related to independent living and include preparing meals, managing money, shopping for groceries or personal items, performing light or heavy housework, and using a telephone. Measurement of both ADLS and IADLs is critical because they have been found to be significant predictors of admission to a nursing home, use of paid home care, use of physician and/or hospital services, the need for insurance coverage and mortality.