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The Lawton Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Scale

Graf, Carla MS, RN, CNS-BC

AJN The American Journal of Nursing: April 2008 - Volume 108 - Issue 4 - p 52–62
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000314810.46029.74
FEATURE: How To try this

By detecting early functional decline, the scale can help nurses with discharge planning.

Overview Acute illness or a worsening chronic condition can hasten functional decline in older adults. During hospitalization, reduced mobility and other factors may rapidly decrease an older patient's ability to perform activities crucial for independent living, and the effects might be permanent. The Lawton Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) Scale assesses a person's ability to perform tasks such as using a telephone, doing laundry, and handling finances. Measuring eight domains, it can be administered in 10 to 15 minutes. The scale may provide an early warning of functional decline or signal the need for further assessment. For a free online video demonstrating use of this assessment, go to

The Lawton scale can help nurses to identify early functional decline and determine home care services.

Carla Graf is a geriatric clinical nurse specialist at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center.

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The author of this article has no significant ties, financial or otherwise, to any company that might have an interest in the publication of this educational activity. Try This: Lawton Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Scale is reproduced with permission of the Gerontological Society of America.

How to Try This is a three-year project funded by a grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation to the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at New York University's College of Nursing in collaboration with AJN. This initiative promotes the Hartford Institute's geriatric assessment tools, Try This: Best Practices in Nursing Care to Older Adults: The series will include articles and corresponding videos, all of which will be available for free online at Nancy A. Stotts, EdD, RN, FAAN (, and Sherry A. Greenberg, MSN, APRN, BC, GNP (, are coeditors of the print series. The articles and videos are to be used for educational purposes only.

Routine use of a Try This tool or approach may require formal review and approval by your employer.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.