chapter  Chapter 10
15 Pages

The fragile thread of connection

Living as a couple with dementia
WithAndrew Balfour

This chapter explores the emotional challenges facing couples who are living with dementia, drawing on research and clinical thinking to look at what may help to sustain the relationships of those living with the illness. Research on the impacts of dementia on the couple relationship is discussed, linking insights from the developmental literature to factors which may be important in mitigating the emotional challenges brought by dementia. A particular focus of discussion is the evidence from research and clinical practice of the importance of emotional contact and containment in dementia care, in mitigating attachment insecurity and supporting the person with dementia’s anchorage in the world of meaning and human relationships. In developing this idea, the chapter discusses the evidence of attachment research across the lifespan, linking this to the psychoanalytic concept of containment in dementia care and the importance of this for supporting the emotional resources of couples and families and enabling them to live more emotionally satisfying lives together with dementia.