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By Jan Beattie and Janice West

Published on 9 Mar 2021

While the understanding of attachment has developed since the early work of

Bowlby (1969) and Ainsworth and colleagues (1978) who described patterns or

styles of attachment beyond the straightforward secure and insecure, what has

remained constant is an understanding that the building of secure attachments

impacts on the ability of a child to understand the world they inhabit and to

navigate their way through it successfully. The theory would suggest that

children whose needs are met in a timely, sensitive and loving way develop a

sense of trust and a confidence in themselves. These early attachments help

them to form close relationships, growing up knowing that when they need

something, someone will help them. Much of the literature that focuses on the

impact of attachment issues in adulthood tend to explore the impact of

attachment on parenting capacity and relationships with adult partners (Collins,

1996; Cooper and colleagues, 2004; Dykas and Cassidy, 2011). Less has been

written about how the attachment and dementia.

Implications for practice

Workers engaging with families who are confronting a diagnosis of dementia

would be well served by having a deeper understanding of the attachment

histories of both the person with dementia and their carers. Many of the

assessment processes used at present tend to have an emphasis on functional

needs assessment and are less focussed on the psychosocial aspects of the

life journeys of those involved. By understanding more fully the impact of past

experiences, current issues can be better understood.

Article continued on pages 11/13 including Margaret's story

Dementia: attachment matters Insight 59

Provides an interesting discussion on how attachment style

developed in childhood can become a significant factor in how

an adult with dementia makes sense of their world.

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