chapter  13
14 Pages

Meeting the mental health needs of older adults using the attachment perspective

ByCECILIA YEE MAN POON

Attachment theory has been recognised as a relevant conceptual framework for clinical practice with older adults for more than a decade (Bradley and Cafferty 2001). Clinical work with older adults may be informed by the attachment perspective for several reasons. Firstly, theory and research have both emphasised the enduring and powerful impact of attachment across the lifespan. Secondly, late adulthood is ¿ lled with experiences of separation and loss that may activate the attachment system. Finally, attachment security is associated with better psychosocial adjustment among older adults. This chapter illustrates how the attachment perspective may inform geriatric mental health care. A brief review of attachment across the lifespan is followed by a discussion on how attachment inÀ uences the treatment process. Speci¿ c aging-related challenges are presented to illustrate the usefulness of the attachment perspective when working with older adults and their caregivers.