Tijdschrift voor Gerontologie en Geriatrie vol:44 issue:4 pages:157-65
Contemporary research has increasingly acknowledged the importance of attachment on stress-related processes in ageing. Congruent with this, there has been much research on attachment in older adults over the past three decades. In this article, the main findings of this research are summarized, with a focus on attachment and dementia. Results show that, in general, the number of attachment figures decreases in old age. Moreover, their identity changes as adult children, deceased loved ones and God become more prominent. With relation to the quality of attachment, anxiety in close relations appears to diminish as people age, while attachment avoidance remains relatively stable. Individuals with high levels of attachment security also report greater well-being and a more positive attitude towards ageing compared to persons with low levels of attachment security. Furthermore, individuals characterized by insecure attachment show more behavioral and psychological problems in dementia. Also, caregiver burden, depression, as well as the quality of care giving and future caregiver commitment differ depending on the quality of attachment of the caregiver. There is preliminary evidence for the efficacy of attachment-based interventions in dementia. Finally, there is a need for greater methodological uniformity and the use of measures that are validated for an older population.