Episodic memories of relationship quality, procedural knowledge of attachment scripts, and the experience of daughters caring for a parent with dementia

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Abstract

A caregiver’s attachment history with their parents may affect the thoughts, feelings, and behavior they now have as they care for a parent with dementia. Participants were 77 daughters of a parent with dementia. The nature of participant conscious episodic memories of their parental figures and unconscious procedural knowledge of caregiving processes (secure base script knowledge) were identified as two aspects of the caregiver’s relationship history that may impact their involvement in care, relationship conflict, critical attitudes, and strain. Our findings indicated that the nature of episodic memories of the caregiver relationship history with parental figures were significantly associated with stress and criticism of their parent. Greater unconscious procedural knowledge of the secure base script was associated with caregiver report of less conflict and less involvement in the caregiving tasks. Potential clinical implications of this pattern are also discussed.

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