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8 Ways Activities of Daily Living Are Easier with a Portable Oxygen Concentrator

Lady in Red with Inogen One G4 Portable Oxygen Concentrator

If you or a loved one has been in a healthcare facility recently, you may have heard about the importance of activities of daily living (ADLs). However, you may not understand what ADLs are or why they are important. Read on to learn more about ADLs and how using a portable oxygen concentrator (POC) can help improve your experience with ADLs. 

What Are ADLs?

Activities of daily living, commonly referred to in the healthcare industry as ADLs, are the essential activities that a person needs to be able to complete to maintain their well-being, physical care and basic survival.[1] Occupational therapists and other health care professionals often use ADLs as a way to determine a person’s overall health as well as determining whether they need some kind of assistance and how much they might need. ADLs are also used to determine the efficacy of certain therapy programs.[2] A person’s quality of life can be dependent on their ability to complete their ADLs.

There are two different types of activities of daily living (ADLs):[2] 


  • Basic ADLs: Basic activities of daily living are the physical skills that are required to meet your basic physical needs. These include each of the following categories:
    • Ambulating: The ability to walk and move around your space without assistance
    • Continence: The ability to control your bladder and bowel functions
    • Dressing: The ability to choose appropriate clothing and dress yourself without assistance
    • Eating: The ability to feed yourself and eat unassisted
    • Personal hygiene: The ability to bathe unassisted, maintain your dental hygiene and groom yourself, including hair and nail care
    • Toileting: The ability to get to and use the toilet unassisted and in a timely manner, including cleaning yourself after using the toilet


  • Instrumental ADLs: Instrumental activities of daily living are the life skills that allow you to live successfully on your own. These include the following:
    • Communication: The ability to maintain communication with people outside your home via telephone, computer and mail
    • Finance management: The ability to pay your bills in a timely manner and manage any financial assets 
    • Food shopping and preparation: The ability to shop for groceries and prepare your own food for yourself
    • House cleaning and maintenance: The ability to clean up after yourself, do your dishes and laundry and keep your home reasonably clean and tidy, including being able to maintain basic home maintenance
    • Medication management: The ability to get your medications, keep track of them and take them as directed, and seek health care when needed
    • Shopping and transportation: The ability to shop for items you need and the ability to get where you need go, including getting to appointments or events on time

Why Are ADLs Important?

Measuring your ability to complete activities of daily living (ADLs) indicates how well you can manage on your own, as well as giving caregivers a good idea of how much assistance you might need. This can be especially helpful following a hospital stay, or can be an indicator of the need for rehospitalization.[3] While some decline in the ability to perform ADLs is to be expected with age, there are other instances in which ADLs provide valuable information. Measuring ADLs in people with chronic illnesses can help provide insight into the progression of the disease, for example. It is also helpful to measure ADLs in people with neurological conditions as it can provide helpful information about impairment. 

The most important aspect for patients is that they must be able to complete these activities of daily living on their own, or with minimal assistance, in order to live safely on their own. If you are struggling to complete any of your ADLs, basic or instrumental, it is time to get help. You may only require temporary rehabilitation therapy or temporary assistance, or you may require permanent assistance from a home health nurse or care facility. Your loved ones may need to provide the necessary information, or a nurse, physical or occupational therapist, social worker or doctor may need to perform a patient assessment to help you learn what kind of interventions you need to support your health and well-being.

What Effect Does Oxygen Therapy Have on ADLs?

For people with chronic lung diseases, like COPD, performing activities of daily living (ADLs) can be particularly difficult. Studies show that many people with COPD experience dyspnea, or shortness of breath, when performing basic ADLs like bathing, dressing and performing daily domestic activities.[4] Moreover, one study found that certain activities, like lifting heavy pots, can cause increased breathing and combine with a drop in metabolic and ventilatory reserves, which is associated with a decrease in oxygen saturation and subsequent hypoxemia.[5] Because the purpose of oxygen therapy is to treat both shortness of breath and the decreases in blood oxygen levels that cause hypoxemia, oxygen therapy can be an effective solution for helping patients complete their ADLs more easily. This benefit becomes even more pronounced when the patient is able to use a portable oxygen concentrator.

How a Portable Oxygen Concentrator Can Improve ADL Performance

Portable oxygen concentrators (POC) can provide a number of different benefits to users, including improvement of exercise tolerance and overall stamina. Beyond that, if you are struggling to complete your activities of daily living (ADLs), a portable oxygen concentrator, like one of our Inogen One models, can provide a lightweight solution for helping to improve your oxygen levels. Additionally, because our POCs are so compact and lightweight, they are easy to carry with you around your home. 

Need more proof of the benefits of a portable oxygen concentrator for improving your ADL performance? Here are some specific ways that a POC can help make ADLs easier. 

  • Reduction in the sensation of breathlessness, so everyday activities feel less taxing.
  • Improved stamina while getting dressed or undressing for the day.
  • Improved ambulation, without shortness of breath, making walking without assistance easier over time.
  • Improved stamina during daily activities like cooking, doing the dishes and getting the mail. 
  • Easier completion of shopping and other tasks outside the home, as you can bring your oxygen therapy with you, without further exhausting yourself. 
  • Ability to hold conversations more easily, even during your oxygen therapy sessions. 
  • Increased mental alertness, which benefits your ability to manage your finances, medication and household tasks. 
  • Increased exercise tolerance, which can help you build your strength up over time. 

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the ways using a POC can benefit your ability to complete your ADLs, it is clear that using a small portable oxygen concentrator can offer significant advantages. Not only will a POC allow you to improve your oxygen levels and reduce your shortness of breath, but it will also make performing your ADLs easier. And, the more your oxygen levels improve, the better your tolerance for your ADLs can become, allowing you to continue to see more benefits over time. 

If you have recently been hospitalized, or have experienced a setback in your health, you may find that completing even your basic ADLs is difficult at first. However, with continued practice, and the support of oxygen therapy with a POC, things will get easier day by day. That simple walk across the room will become less tiring, and you will be able to finish brushing your hair without feeling winded. With continued oxygen therapy, and patient practice of your ADLs, you can be back at the stove making a meal before you know it. 

Improve Your ADLs with a POC from Inogen

Inogen One portable oxygen concentrators are clinically proven to be effective for maintaining a healthy oxygen saturation, which can make your ADLs easier for you.[6] And, because our Inogen One models are so compact and lightweight, they make moving around during your oxygen therapy significantly easier. Customers report time and again that our POCs make their daily lives easier. Linda F. tells us that her Inogen One G5 POC “is a game changer and [her] life has been able to be lived again.” Susan H. describes her life before her COPD diagnosis as very active, including a lot of walking and gardening. Suddenly, she found herself short of breath after completing a flight of stairs, getting in and out of the car or going to the grocery store. After seeing someone in her pulmonary rehabilitation class with an Inogen One G4, she ordered one right away and reports that her life totally changed. With her Inogen One G4, Susan was able to complete her ADLs without any assistance and participate in her life once again.[7] 

Inogen was founded on the belief that oxygen therapy should improve your quality of life, not hinder it. With our small, lightweight POCs, you can get the oxygen you need without feeling taxed by carrying your oxygen concentrator with you. Our goal is to help you improve your freedom, mobility and independence, and we are confident that with an Inogen One POC by your side, you will be able to enjoy improved performance of your ADLs. Contact us today to find out how Inogen can help make your ADLs easier for you.  


[1] Lyon, Sarah. “What There Is to Know About ADLs and IADLs in a Healthcare Facility.” Verywell Health, Verywell Health, 7 Oct. 2019, www.verywellhealth.com/what-are-adls-and-iadls-2510011.

[2] Edemekong, Peter F. “Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).” StatPearls Publishing, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 12 Apr. 2020, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470404/.

[3] Carlin, Brian, et al. “Performance of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) as a Marker for the 30 Day Rehospitalization Rates for Patients With COPD Exacerbations.” Chest Journal, vol. 142, no. 4, Oct. 2012, p. 734A., doi:10.1378/chest.1390745.

[4] Castro, Antonio A M, et al. “Oxygen and Ventilatory Output during Several Activities of Daily Living Performed by COPD Patients Stratified According to Disease Severity.” PloS One, Public Library of Science, 20 Nov. 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3835796/.

[5] Barusso, Marina S, et al. “Limitation of Activities of Daily Living and Quality of Life Based on COPD Combined Classification.” American Association for Respiratory Care, Respiratory Care, 1 Mar. 2015, rc.rcjournal.com/content/60/3/388.

[6] “Clinical Efficacy of Inogen One Oxygen Concentrators.” Inogen, Inogen, Inc., Accessed 20 May 2020, www.inogen.com/oxygen-therapy/clinical-efficacy/.

[7] “Oxygen Concentrator Reviews & Testimonials.” Inogen, Inogen, Inc., Accessed 20 May 2020, www.inogen.com/oxygen-therapy/customer-stories/.


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