IMHO: Why ADL Skills Matter

by Christina Bruni Patient Expert

ADL skills or activities of daily living are the foundation that
a successful recovery is built on.

The rocket shooters among us might sneer at these basic elements.
Yet as far as I've come: I will give credit to a person's ability to master simple things like doing laundry and cooking.

In my family, my Italian mamma cooked, cleaned and did laundry.
My father in their 56 years of marriage has done none of this ever.

It's a liability, if you're a mother or father, to do all the household chores.
You must equip your child with confidence by getting him or her to actively participate in the running of the household.

As early as seven years old, a kid can set the table.
You can most likely Google the various age ranges to get a list of appropriate tasks.
(I dread calling them chores.
Why not call them home management?)

Only give your kids an allowance that is earned for completing this work.
Suze Orman in her Money Class DVD tells parents this is the best way to prepare your kids for the real work world.
Kids are not entitled to free money; they need to earn their keep.

An older teen or young adult with schizophrenia will succeed if he or she has ADL skills perfected like second nature.

You do these things and keep doing them until it's as easy as breathing.
I'll give everyone some ideas about this.
First: read my Recovery Strategies: Establishing a Routine SharePost.
If you set aside a specific time each day or week to do laundry, it will be easier to get it done.

I reserve a Saturday or Sunday or Monday or Tuesday for Recipe Night.
I go to the gym three days a week on certain days.
It also will help you to try to go to bed early and wake up early.

A shower every day is a must.
Make self-care a cherished ritual.
Buy different face washes, makeup, deodorant, aftershave and see which ones you like the best.

Stock up on 6-packs of bars of soap, buy two toothbrushes to have on hand and buy six disposable razors at a time too.
It also makes sense to buy two tubes of toothpaste at once.

I cheat because I can afford to: I hire cleaning help because I detest doing housework.
There's no shame in paying for services if you can afford to.

Clean the kitchen and bathroom every week on your own if you must.
These rooms need to be kept neat and clean more so than other rooms.

Put down roach baits in inconspicuous locations in your apartments.
Since 1999, I haven't ever seen one cockroach in any of my apartments.
I also allow the exterminator to spray my apartment once a month.

A trick: invite a friend over to your apartment: it will force you to clean and straighten up.

I'll talk at the end of April in detail about spring cleaning.
I'll end here by telling everyone to take it easy: a little dust is fine; an errant sock on the floor is not a moral failing to beat yourself up for.

You're human.
We all have days where we shudder at the thought of showering or cleaning the dishes left over after dinner.

The purpose of mastering ADL skills is so that they become, as best as possible, automatic.

Then you always have the free choice: to cook, or order in Chinese food.

The goal is to take control so it becomes a choice instead of remaining a liability.
It might take time yet it's well worth the effort.


Christina Bruni
Meet Our Writer
Christina Bruni

Christina Bruni wrote about schizophrenia for HealthCentral as a Patient Expert. She is a mental health activist and freelance journalist.