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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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11 out of 12 Instrumental Activities of Daily Living


December 17, 2021

Life Hacks

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With 11 days until the New Year, I have chosen to write about 11 of the 12 Instrumental Activities of Daily Living that have influenced my life. In the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process (4th ed.; AOTA, 2020), Instrumental Activities of Daily Living are defined as activities to support daily life within the home and community that often require more complex interactions than those used in ADLs. While those of us interested in occupational therapy often focus on ADLs, I have come to realize how essential the following 11 Instrumental Activities of Daily Living are to me. These activities not only help to give my life meaning, but they give me an interesting way to look at some of the things I have accomplished this past year and what I want or need to do in the upcoming year.

1. Care of others: Caring for others helps me to gain a realistic perspective on my own life, gets me out of my head, and gives me some humility. This past year I have spent a lot of time helping my 98-year-old father. This past week I have been helping him to move. While stressful, I am getting to spend more time with him which I recognize is such a precious thing. I am grateful for his love and have been reminded how lucky I am to have him in my life. Hopefully I can continue to care for him in the same way he has always cared for me.

How have you cared for others this past year? How can you be of service in 2022?

2. Care of pets: Every other month this past year one of my dogs was sick. Last week my dog Jack refused to eat and had some sort of doggie norovirus. Yuck! My other dog Sharon seems to have some sort of problem with her paws every other month. It’s all good because they provide me with so much love and attention. Although they are not official emotional support animals, they take care of me more than I care for them.

Do you have a pet? If you haven’t but have always wanted one, maybe 2022 is the year!

3. Communications management: With Covid, keeping connected with others has been so important to maintaining my emotional health. I have even resorted to writing letters this past year. While I don’t do the holiday card thing, this time of year reminds me to reach out to my friends and family to let them know how much they mean to me, and to tell them how honored I am to have them in my life.

Is there someone you have wanted to speak to for a long time but just haven’t got around to it? Trust me, get in touch while you can!

4. Driving and community mobility: New York City has great public transportation, so you don’t really need a car. LA, the public transportation can be challenging. I feel lucky that my wife and I, having lived in NYC for so long, have no problems navigating the city using public transportation or by walking. But I am also extremely fortunate to have a car. Especially when we need to get out of the city to see nature. I hope that this upcoming year I can see more of California like Yosemite, Death Valley, and maybe the Redwoods.

Where have you gone? Where are you going?

5. Financial management: With one semester left to go before graduation, I know many of my classmates have been talking about paying back loans, potential benefits and salaries, and other money matters. While daunting, it has opened my eyes to how helpful it is to talk to others who share my worries about money. So many of us try to figure all this money stuff out on our own. We don’t need to suffer in silence.

Do you have someone you can talk to about your finances? Is there someone you know and trust that can support you with money matters as you get ready to start graduate school or graduate?

6. Health management and maintenance: This past year I got back into running. I’m now up to running 4 days a week in the morning. Next year I want to run a half marathon. It isn’t always easy to get up and run. Some days I just don’t want to do it even though I know I always feel better when I run. On days when I don’t want to run, I remind myself of a phrase I learned in my pediatric immersion class, “When in doubt prope (proprioception) it out”.

Do you have any health maintenance routines? What will you do to support your health and wellness in 2022?

7. Home establishment and management: Recently my wife and I have been going back and forth about getting a new bed. After putting a lot of effort into creating a nice place to live, this is the one thing in our house that still needs to be addressed. However, the cost of a new mattress/bed is expensive! We both know we need to be comfortable sleeping – Am I right?

How have you made your home comfortable? Are there any changes that you would like to do to make it better?

8. Meal preparation and cleanup: Food, glorious food. I sure have been cooking a lot. One major change this year was unforeseen. My wife decided to become gluten free, so I also became gluten free. This has added a whole new dimension to preparing meals and dining out. I became that Guy who knows all about gluten free pizza and cookies. The benefit of this change is I have healthier eating habits and am much more mindful of what is going into my body. I also have been thinking about what it could be like to cut out meat or at least limit my consumption of meat.

What types of new foods have you discovered? What types of food or meals to you think you might want to prepare in 2022?

9. Religious and spiritual activities and expression: I feel like I have neglected this aspect of my life and as a result can tell a difference in my day-to-day outlook. I lost someone very close to me this past year which awakened this otherwise dormant part of me. So many questions after experiencing the death of a loved one . . . so many questions.

10. Safety and emergency maintenance: There was one earthquake this last year that was rockin’. Yuck. I forgot about how earthquakes felt while living in New York. We had hurricanes and snowstorms, but they didn’t compare to the feeling I had with this earthquake. I thought what if the “big one” comes? As a result, we put together an emergency kit and started getting together some nonperishables just in case the big one happens or if there happens to be a Zombie apocalypse.

All kidding aside, how can you keep up your safety and emergency maintenance?

11. Shopping: Shopping has been a challenge as this year. Especially as a student with a limited income. However, I have mastered the art of making food shopping lists that are always within budget. Also, as an OT student I fortunately am not needing to keep up with wearing the latest fashion . . . but I do like me some clothes so maybe next year I’ll try to set aside some money for some new threads . . .

Have you noticed inflation? How are you dealing with rising costs going into 2022?

And about that 12th IADL — Child Rearing . . . Well, I don’t have any children right now, but maybe in 2022? We will see?!

As you reflect on your 11 or maybe 12 IADLs, I hope they are as enlightening to you as they have been for me. Have a Happy New Year.