Attachment in people with dementia and their caregivers: a systematic review

Dementia (London). 2014 Nov;13(6):747-67. doi: 10.1177/1471301213485232. Epub 2013 Apr 25.


Attachment bonds are important for personality development, emotion regulation and mental health throughout the lifespan. This systematic review explores the relevance of attachment for people with dementia, and how attachment influences the experience of caregivers of people with dementia. Eighteen studies were included. Three focused on attachment in terms of parent fixation in dementia, three examined attachment behaviour in dementia, five addressed attachment and dementia-related behavioural problems, and seven concentrated on attachment in caregivers. Attachment behaviours were evident at various stages of dementia and the presence of parent fixation was observed when attachment needs were not being met. Insecure attachment was related to neuropsychiatric symptoms. Attachment security had important consequences for caregiver psychological health. Implications of methodological issues such as the choice of respondent, measurement issues, and the lack of a longitudinal perspective are discussed. The implications of attachment for the support of people with dementia and caregivers are considered.

Keywords: bonds; neuropsychiatric symptoms; parent fixation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Dementia / psychology*
  • Dementia / therapy
  • Humans
  • Object Attachment*
  • Professional-Patient Relations*