Attachment Security And Psychological Health In Adult Child Caregivers And Their Parents With Alzheimer’s Disease And Related Dementias
This thesis is restricted to Yale network users only. It will be made publicly available on 08/28/2021
Objective: Attachment theory is a helpful framework for examining one of the most fundamental needs in parent-child dyads across the lifespan and how attachment security might protect both dyad members’ psychological health, especially in times of crisis. In this study of adult child caregivers and their parents with early stage Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD), we examined the associations between both dyad members’ attachment security, the adult child’s depressive symptoms, and quality of life of the parent with ADRD.
Method: Thirty-four individuals (parents) with ADRD and their 34 adult-child caregivers each completed the 12-item Experiences in Close Relationship Scale – Short Form (ECR-S) to assess attachment orientations. The parents’ with ADRD’s quality of life was assessed using the 28-item DEMQOL scale and caregivers’ depressive symptoms were assessed using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D)’s 20-item scale.
Results: In line with hypotheses, parents with ADRD who were high in anxious attachment were more likely to report lower quality of life, and caregivers who were high in anxious attachment reported more depressive symptoms. However, there were no significant interpersonal associations between one dyad member’s attachment anxiety or avoidance and the other dyad member’s well-being.
Conclusion: This study’s results suggest the importance of considering the role of anxious attachment when examining both parents with ADRD and their caregivers’ well-being. Future research and intervention should further investigate how attachment security could be improved and how this may influence the quality of caregiving.