Attachment representations in people with dementia and their carers: implications for well-being within the dyad

Aging Ment Health. 2012;16(7):845-54. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2012.667779. Epub 2012 Apr 10.


Objectives: The process of developing and living with dementia may activate attachment feelings and behaviours in people with dementia (PwD) and their carers. By obtaining information from both PwD and carer, we aimed to provide information on the nature and concordance of attachment patterns within the dyad and to examine the relative contribution of attachment representations in PwD and carers to the well-being of both parties.

Method: Ninety-seven PwD and their carers completed categorical and dimensional ratings of attachment. PwD also rated their self-concept, mood and quality of life. Carers rated the functional ability of PwD and neuropsychiatric symptoms and measures of subjective well-being.

Results: People with dementia reported more insecure than secure attachment, with the most frequently reported style being dismissive attachment. Attachment security for PwD was related to more positive self-concept and less symptoms of anxiety. Attachment was not related to quality of life in PwD, but mood and self-concept were strong predictors of quality of life. Carer attachment security was related to their psychological health. Distress at symptoms and MMSE score of the PwD were the strongest predictors of stress. There was no association between PwD and carer attachment styles; PwD working models of attachment did not predict carer well-being and vice versa.

Conclusion: Attachment representations may be important for the psychological well-being of PwD and carers, but there was no evidence of the reciprocal nature of attachment within these dyads.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Dementia / nursing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Object Attachment*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Self Concept