Matthew Berrisford is a Charge Nurse at The Meadows Community Hospital, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust. He tweets @berrisfjord
One of the most useful pieces of advice I can share with a colleague working in dementia care is this: whenever confronted with what you perceive to be attention-seeking behaviour, reframe it to yourself as attachment-seeking behaviour.
Attachment is a hard-wired evolutionary mechanism in all mammals. Simply put, in order to survive, infants must imprint upon a main carer (typically one or both parents) to ensure that their essential needs are met.
These needs are not purely physical (food, drink, protection); the relationship itself is essential. This fact is aptly demonstrated by animal experiments (Harlow’s monkeys and Skinner’s rats, for example) which consistently show that infant mammals raised in isolation – with no access to a main carer to imprint upon – age quickly and die younger. Continue reading