The contribution of attachment to caregiver burden in adult children of institutionalized parents with Alzheimer's disease or related dementia

Esther Loring Kilcrease Crispi, Fordham University

Abstract

The contribution of attachment to caregiver burden in 108 adult child caregivers of institutionalized Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients was examined. Since adult child caregivers to AD patients commonly report high levels of chronic strain even after the parent has been placed in nursing home care, it was important to investigate the factors which contributed to burden in that population. Two dimensions of caregiver burden were examined: difficulty associated with specific caregiving responsibility and global psychological symptoms. The potential contribution of demographics to caregiver burden was considered. However, the main focus of the study was to investigate the contribution to caregiver burden of attachment style, attachment preoccupation, perceived disease severity, and caregiving behaviors as moderated by perceived caregiving adequacy.^ The contribution of attachment to caregiver burden was of particular interest because AD disease progression tends to impact fundamental interpersonal relationship between the AD parent and adult child. Feelings of attachment of the adult child for the AD parent can also be a motivator to continue caregiving. The current study investigated both trait and environmental aspects of lifespan attachment.^ Results using a model comparison approach with multiple regression analyses indicated that attachment style, the trait aspect of attachment, predicted all four aspects of caregiver burden: caregiving difficulty, psychological symptoms, depression, and anxiety. Attachment preoccupation, the environmental state aspect of attachment, predicted psychological symptoms, depression, and anxiety. No other variables including demographics were significant predictors.^ Respondents with secure attachment styles handled the burden of caregiving with significantly lower levels of both specific mood states related to difficulty in caregiving and to more global psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression. This indicated that secure attachment style appeared to protect caregivers from some of the strain of caregiving. With respect to attachment preoccupation, those who spent a lot of time mulling over the relationship with the AD parent had higher levels of caregiver burden than those who did not. It may be that those individuals had not resolved feelings related to the parent's disease. This study illustrated the importance of considering the attachment relationship between adult children and institutionalized AD parents when examining caregiver burden. ^

Subject Area

Gerontology|Psychology, Social|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Esther Loring Kilcrease Crispi, "The contribution of attachment to caregiver burden in adult children of institutionalized parents with Alzheimer's disease or related dementia" (January 1, 1995). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI9530024.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9530024

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