Indices of Attachment in Elderly Women Who are Not Mentally Compromised Residing in Nursing Homes
Kay Foland, PhD, RN, PMHNP-BC, CNP
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The purpose of this study was to take the concept of attachment as it has been developed in the literature of early childhood, extend it to the world of the elderly, and to describe the feelings and behaviors of attachment reported by elderly women residing in nursing homes. Bowlby's theory that attachments do not end in childhood, but endure throughout the life-span, served as the organizing framework for this descriptive exploratory study. An open-ended questionnaire was developed to determine the feelings of attachment and attachment behaviors in the sample. Thirty women over the age of 65 living in nursing homes in a rural area of a midwestern state, who were not mentally compromised, were interviewed in a private room in the nursing home. The interviews were audio recorded and the tapes transcribed. Demographic data were obtained and a summary was written for each interview. After extensive reading of transcriptions, topical categories were identified and the transcriptions were coded using the Ethnograph program. Themes, patterns, and recurring ideas were searched for and analyzed. Data were reported using frequencies and percentages when possible. Synthesis of the categories provided an exhaustive description by the elderly of their relationships characterized by attachment. Findings indicated the elderly women identified certain persons, more often a daughter, as the attachment figure to whom they felt closest. Close proximity and frequent contact were often present with those persons, but physical closeness was not necessary to maintain attachments. For these elderly, attachment contact was achieved by more than just physical touching, such as talking with or looking at other attachment figures, and by maintaining contact through phone calls, letters, and pictures. Feelings of attachment to attachment figures were intense and long-lasting. Conversely, separation from attachment figures caused sadness and despair, which supports Bowlby's theory. As a result of this study, nurses have an increased understanding of which persons elderly women in nursing homes feel attached to, what behaviors or actions help maintain the bonds present in these women, and what the feelings of attachment mean for the emotional well-being of these elderly women. A basic foundation of knowledge has been started, and further research is needed to determine the changes in attachments over the life-span and to conduct further correlations and intervention studies.
This dissertation has also been disseminated through the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. Dissertation/thesis number: 9005576; ProQuest document ID: 303812645. The author still retains copyright.
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This item has not gone through this repository's peer-review process, but has been accepted by the indicated university or college in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the specified degree.
|Review Type||None: Degree-based Submission|
|Research Approach||Qualitative Research|
Nursing Home Residents
|CINAHL Subject(s)||Attachment Behavior--In Old Age;
Women--In Old Age;
|Grantor||The University of Texas at Austin|
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