Activities of daily living include obvious and mundane activities such as showering, getting dressed, brushing one's teeth or combing one's hair, to more complicated ones such as being able to shop and cook for oneself or to be able to pay one's own bills.
For physicians and other healthcare providers, the ability to perform one's activities of daily living serve as a measure of independence. This independence is often affected by neurological, psychiatric, and medical diseases.
People who cannot perform their ADLs are thought to have lost their independence as they require the assistance of others in order to function. In extreme cases, such as it occurs after devastating strokes, and other neurological diseases, people require long-term care in an inpatient facility.
Exercise on Prescription: Cardiovascular Activity for Health By John Buckley, Jane Holmes, Gareth Mapp; Elsevier Health Sciences, 1999.