Thank you for reading. This post is so much longer than I anticipated. I’ve never really written out my experience like this. I am not even sure if this makes sense, or if I am going to be ranting or asking for advice but I thought I’d give you a background of my situation.

It’s been 8 years since my grandmother moved in with us. To make a long story short, she moved in with us because her other children forced her to sell her house and divide the sum of money with them as my grandfather had passed away. My mother was totally against it. As it’s not possible to sell only half of a house, my grandmother was forced into homelessness. This started a domino effect. Suddenly, every one of her children abandoned her – every one except for my mother, that is. Our family took her in.

So now, it’s been 8 years. I am 28 years old, and I live with my parents, sister and maternal grandmother. We all help to take care of her but a lot of the work falls on my mother. We don’t get any money from my grandmother’s siblings. In fact, they haven’t even attempted to help or visit my grandmother at all – the last phonecall to ask for help resulted in curses on the end of the phone line. Thankfully, we do well enough to live as comfortable as we can.

The thing is, my grandmother has Narcissistic Personality disorder. Growing up, she liked to play favourites and pitted one child against the other with her comments. My mother though, was the scapegoat and had it the hardest.
Here are some things my grandmother does. For example, she creates lies, telling others things that are untrue: how my mother doesn’t allow her to use the telephone (lie – my mother even gave her a mobile phone to use), how our family left her without any food in the house (lie – we always had food in the house) and even down to her ailments like her stomachache or headaches – and everytime we go for a check up, the doctor says she is healthy for a 70 –year old woman. She has this sense of entitlement too - we prepare her own set of special shampoo, body wash etc, like she requested – and she doesn’t use it. She has said some horrible comments about others’ weight, beauty, race etc. It’s upsetting to hear – especially to my mother who receives these same comments when she was younger. My grandmother just wants control, regardless of anyone else. It’s been this way for all these years.

As you can probably tell, I did caregiving throughout most of my twenties. I was resentful and angry at my uncles and aunts who got to live their lives as normal adults while I had to sacrifice a lot of my own wants. I didn’t spend a lot of time with my friends – because at 20, who wants to hear about family problems? At that age, no one understands. My friends were busy figuring themselves out and following their own dreams, while I was trying to help make the situation better, reduce stress in the household, solve problems in the living arrangement and defuse arguments. They cannot relate – how can they? I lost a lot of friendships. I just didn’t want to make the situation worse with my own petty wants. I had to bottle all this in on my own for a long time. My mother apologises to me about this, but I cannot just leave everything to her. She needs help too. She doesn’t want to place my grandmother in a nursing home as it would be the same as what her siblings had done.

At times, we do get some help from my grandmother’s relatives to take her in for a week or two. However, for months now, my grandmother refuses to visit her relatives even though I know that they call for my grandmother. My mother has mentioned to my grandmother that she needs a break from caregiving, trying to persuade her to stay for a while at a kind relative’s house, but the next thing my grandmother talks about is how ‘all’ her children has abandoned her.
So, we have now come to the crux of why I am writing.

Recently, my mother fell sick. We had to go to the doctor twice in just this month. She had almost fainted because of her high blood pressure – it had spiked up following a stressful incident with my grandmother. It was terrifying. We didn’t tell my grandmother this as she has a tendency to make everything about herself and blow up the situation. My mother is under constant stress. I am very worried for her.

I am at a loss. I usually am able to steer conversations in a polite manner so that my grandmother relents a bit. This time, I don’t know what is the problem at all – why doesn’t she want to stay with her relatives? She always says they make her stay comfortable and take care of her. Today when I ask again, she says that they don’t feed her enough, another lie. I am so exhausted from all this double talk. I… I don’t know what to ask for. How do I tell my grandmother this and make her understand that we are not abandoning her but we do need time away from caring for her? How can I make this situation any better without causing any extra stress to my mother or my family members?

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Tsk. "… frightens and distresses her." By her, I mean your mother, not your grandmother. Sorry.
Helpful Answer (0)

I read your post about your grandmother. I just want to give you a hug. You are a brilliant daughter, and without you your mother's life would be unbearable. And, as Pam points out, short.

Now. There are lots of people on this forum, but also in the world at large, whose lives are infested with NPD. You will read lots of helpful advice about boundaries, about creating safe distance, emotional firebreaks, that sort of thing.

I would encourage you to be strong for your mother, and for the rest of your family too; but to do that very carefully so that it doesn't rebound on your mother. I have a sister-in-law I'm very fond of, and what I have found very difficult is getting between her and her mother without hurting the wrong person. Not that I aim to hurt either of them, of course; but when you try to separate the NPD and the scapegoat it tends to be the scapegoat's skin that gets ripped off - and that, I definitely don't want to do.

All I mean is, try not to worry if it's a slow and painstaking process - because you might find that the idea of anyone "doing something about Grandma" frightens and distresses her. In a way, if your mother is ill and therefore (I hope) in bed or convalescing somewhere, that is your opportunity to start re-educating your grandmother while your mother isn't in the room to worry or give way. If you can get her out of the house, that's fantastic; but I think it's a bit optimistic to think you'll manage that quickly (though who knows? Maybe it'll be easier than I think - and it certainly can't hurt to find out).

Meanwhile, you bar your mother's bedroom door to her, stating clearly and firmly that you Will Not Have Her Disturbed. In terms of help, call on professionals, social services, neighbours. Do your aunts and uncles have children you like? The friends you think you've lost: my money would be on at least a few of them actually hiding exactly the kind of family dysfunction you're going through - see if there is a local carers' group you can join. Best of luck, please keep us updated.
Helpful Answer (1)

County Social services can get her placed. Your mother will die from caregiving; 30% of caregivers die before their patients do. Save a life; move grandma to senior housing, on Medicaid if you have to . Then you can concentrate on getting your mother well.
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Thank you everyone for your support. It really lifts me up a lot. I realise I have been hitting brick wall continuously, because I've been looking at the same problems the same way. I really appreciate all the insight. It really helps to get suggestions/ideas/solutions from a different perspective.

@GardenArtist Thanks for your suggestions. I think I will start doing some of what you suggested rightaway - like the emails for example. I feel like they are long overdue. I'm not sure why I didn't think of it. I also appreciate all the step-by-step you have given. I felt like I really needed to see it like that instead of a huge wall.

@texarkana Thank you for your reply. It was so direct and I really see it as that now. You're right about this site as well.

@Chicago1954 Thanks for your reply as well. Yeah, I remember that incident how my family was so against selling or dividing the assets. But yeah, it happened. I think GM thought everyone wanted to take care of her if she sold the house. You know, I thought of that possibility too - it's terrifying tbh. I think that thought is what spurred me to write on here.

@JessieBelle Thank you for your response and your concern. I do have a good job, actually, teaching Art, and it pays quite well. I also did move out for a year, but I found myself having to come back and help quite often that it was an added hassle. I think you're right. I would like to get some help for my mother; she's the one I care for more. I think it would really help for her to talk to someone about the issues.

@Eyerishlass Thanks so much for your response. Actually, this past year, things have gotten better in terms of the social department and I do have some close friends who know my situation and are a bit more understanding. I think meeting them has played a part in trying to change things - I want to live. I want my mother to live. This is the biggest barrier.

@jeannegibbs Thanks for saying it like it is. I do have some love for GM - she's not all bad. I guess I still wanted to hope that she could and would change. But seeing everyone's responses, I know I should understand that. That's a good idea about subsidised housing. I'll check that out.

@shakingdustoff Thanks for understanding. GM is healthy - when she wants to be. Other times, she'll pretend. I think I will look into a separate living arrangement for her. She really is a threat.
Helpful Answer (2)

Your grandmother is a healthy 70 year old? OMG. Do you want to be stuck with her until you are 58? You will probably be alone with then -- your mother may not hold up that long.


That is the only viable solution I see. You could get out, live on your own, continue to help mother as time permits while you are LIVING YOUR OWN LIFE.

Even better, move GM out. When the dust settles, you can mom can decide calmly and logically whether it still makes sense for you to live together.

GM is not going to change. Sorry. Once upon a time I thought anyone could change if the wanted to and if they had the right tools. This site has taught me otherwise regarding narcissism. It is sad. I feel sorry for your grandmother and others like her. Maybe some day we'll be able to treat and cure this disorder. Until then, the best we can do is minimize the damage.

If GM has no assets and the sale of the house was more than 5 years ago, and she has medical needs, she will qualify for Medicaid. If she has no medical needs she will qualify for subsidized housing. Take it upon yourself to research the options. And then ... OUT.
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You wrote, "How can I get grandmother to give us a break?"

You can't. She's holding you and your mom hostage but you and your mom have been willing participants.

At your age you need to get out of this situation and I would expect your mom to fully understand this. I understand that you want to help your mom and that's to be commended but as you wrote, you have no friends. You do nothing socially. Your life revolves around a narcissistic little old lady. You need friends and fresh air and life experiences.

You and your mom need to resolve this today. Your grandmother doesn't get to hold the two of you hostage. It's your mom's house and what she says goes. She's never going to gain the approval of this woman who withheld her approval for years so your mom needs to give up trying. Find a decent assisted living facility and tell your grandmother it's time to go. Then both of you reclaim your lives. You realize that you could be in this situation for the next 20 years? Where will you be then with no experience being independent and having spent the majority of your years caring for this old bat?

Big changes need to be made.
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Is there anything physically wrong with your grandmother? If there isn't, she could be living independently. I know you won't be able to change the dynamic between your mother and grandmother, but you can pull yourself out of the situation. This is an important time in your life. If you pull yourself out and get your own place, you can still come back to help.

I hope you can talk your mother into getting some counseling for herself so she can break free of the debt she feels she owes. It sounds like your grandmother is a bottomless pit, so nothing done will ever fill her needs. What I find most disturbing is that she is only slightly older than myself. If she is not disabled, why is she letting ANYONE take care of her?

I would pull myself out of the situation by getting a good job and my own place, then I would work on getting my mother some help.
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Read up on co-dependency. That might be going on with all of you.

No one can force someone to sell a house. What was she 62? And no one can force the division of those assets. If that is what your grandmother did, that is on her. I can't understand selling a house and not having anywhere to live.

Yes, your mother needs to give mom a deadline to get out.

Then, you need to get out, too. What are you doing there? You need a life and a family.

On this site we hear this all of the time "I am living with my mother, grandmother, etc. and I am in my 20's." Run. Don't wait. It sounds like your grandmother will out live your mom. Then, you will be stuck taking care of her.
Helpful Answer (1)

OMG! Get that B**tch out of your house.Her behavior is killing you and your mother. Dealing with this kind of personality is tough and I mean TOUGH! It is easy for me to tell you to set boundaries but that is easier said than done. I had to go to a therapist in order to stand up to my Narc mother and did it ever help. But the key word is help, this woman will not change ,you have to in order to survive. I am not surprised her own children abandoned her, she is reaping what she sowed.Also not surprised that the only child that would let her in their house was the one that caught the most h*ll from her.If possible get therapy for yourself,stay on this site ,their are many people in your situation and they are a great support. Don't beat yourself up trying to please this woman, because guess what, nothing you do will EVER be right or enough.You will just be chasing your tail trying to please her ,but she won't ever be pleased except to see everybody in turmoil,that is where she gets her pleasure. If you can get her in a NH do it, that is not abandonment.The staff their won't put up with her cr*p.
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As you yourself observed, everything is about GM. She's manipulated over the years and found that she can do it with your mother. Apparently it hasn't worked if the other siblings won't take her in. So she's chosen her target. And I think that's why she wants to stay with you and your mother.

It will really be hard to break if not try to reverse years of GM being dominant, but it's going to have to be done to save your mother's health.

First, you and your mother can decide what and what you can't do. And determine how much, if anything, you can afford to hire out. It doesn't sound as if GM needs as much medical as emotional attention, but I would call her PCP, internist or geriatrician and explain the situation, asking what help can be provided in the home to help GM with whatever medical problems she has. Home care scripts aren't indefinite, so the problems will still be there after GM probably scolds and tries to manipulate them as well.

If she doesn't have any monetary assets, you might consider applying for Medicaid as a possibility for outside of the home care, although I think this might cause a volcanic level eruption by GM and more charges of abandonment. Cover yourself by writing or e-mailing the family and first request their assistance in her care, stating that you and your mother can no longer do so and that an outside placement might have to be considered. That way you've got written evidence of asking for family help first.

You can also ask that they each set aside time to come to your house to provide respite care so you and your mother can have some time to yourselves.

If you have to, contact your mother's physicians and ask what you can do for your mother - they'll probably tell you to address the caregiving situation first, as that's a major stressor.

Adult day care is an option but I have a feeling she'd be very disruptive and soon be asked not to come.

I don't normally suggest placing someone in an institutional setting but it really sounds as though GM is an emotional vampire and is draining you and your mother of energy.

I don't think even raising the issue of not abandoning GM is worthwhile because she'll immediately turn the issue to herself and ignore what you're saying.

If you do get help from the family, which I doubt, get it all lined up before you tell GM, address what you think she'll raise as issues, and present a fait accompli package. Alternately, if you ask her beforehand, she'll resist and turn the burden to you and your mother. Either way there are going to be fireworks.

If the family doesn't pitch in to help, try to have a conversation with GM and tell her that changes have to be made, and turn the tables on her by asking her how she can help out. Tell you your mother is ill and this can't continue, so she needs to be part of the solution.

If that doesn't work, which I suspect it won't, you're going to have to make some tough decisions about whether she can continue to reside in your home unless she changes her disruptive and accusatory tactics. Remember, you've taken care of her for years; it's time for you and your mother to take care of yourselves.

There are others on this forum who've dealt with similar situation; I suspect they'll have more concrete advice than I.

Good luck; this is a tough situation.
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