How do I deal with a totally self-centered MIL?

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My husband and I take care of Miss Daisy in her home or wherever she may be (rehab, emergency room, dr. Apt,hospital, etc.) She is 90. All of her needs are taken care of, but rather than appreciation, she seems to be getting more manipulative. When we call her, she speaks only about herself, never a question about our lives. Ever. It's so hard to have a normal relationship with someone who is so narcissistic. If we try to change the subject and interject something about our lives, she will somehow turn the conversation into her experience. I don't even like to call anymore because it is so boring being talked at and listening to minute details about her skin, her hemmoroids, bowel movements, etc. I've been married to my husband for forty years, yet, when she calls here, rarely, she calls and asks for him. It's almost like I don't exist. She'll say things like, "You know, I'm getting so tired of frozen dinners." She is expecting me to provide meals for her, yet when I have done that, she rarely seems to appreciate it. We sent flowers for Valentine's Day. On the phone later, we had to ask if she received them. "...oh, yes.......thank you" she replied like they were expected. I know I would be more involved if I felt like she appreciated me rather than working me to see what else I can do for her. She has no interests and no friends. When I make myself call her (because I feel like I should do the right thing) she will always end the conversation with,"call me." I really resent that. She is able to call me, why do I always need to call her? I know at 90, someone can't do everything they once did, but this woman is plain lazy.

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I'm sure she does get lonely, but no wonder. It would seem that reaching out to others and just a basic curiosity about other people would help with loneliness. I'd be lonely all the time if I only thought about myself and my every need. Also, who wants to spend time with someone who only cares about themselves? My husband brought her a box of candy and she didn't even thank him for his kind gesture. He does so much for her (he's a saint!) and all she will do is point out what he forgot, what the next thing is he needs to do for her, etc. She hasn't done anything to her home in 40 years and now she expects my son to "fix" everything.....and she has the money to do it. I tell my husband to hire someone to do it. Interesting how she could live somewhere that is so in need of repair/update and not seem to be aware of the need to pick up the phone and have someone come in and do repairs. She is going to be coming home from rehab soon and she actually had the nerve to ask my husband, "you're going to come and stay with me, right???" Thank God he told her no, he has a home and life of his own.
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I worked with a guy who always called his narcissistic Mom at 4pm each day. After saying hello, he put the phone down and finished his working day. Every so often you would pick the phone up...mutter something like "ah" and put the phone down again. At about 4:45 he picked the phone up, said..Mom..I have to go..talk with you tomorrow..and hung up

He told me, his Mom is so self centered she never realized he wasn't on the line....just talked non-stop about herself. It was the only way he could stand to call his mom
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Joysuthe, there are a lot of older people like that. Their worlds get smaller and smaller. Pretty soon it only includes themselves. My mother is just like you describe. She turns every conversation to herself and expects people to call her, instead of reaching out to them. I don't think there is a way to change it. Most likely if you say something, your MIL will just get upset with you. I know it's frustrating.
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Unfortunately, you're not going to change Miss Daisy. She's 90 years old and is unlikely to change at this point. All you can do is change how you react to her.

I have a 93-year-old aunt whom I am not crazy about. She'll call and if she gets my voicemail the imaginary clock starts as to when I call her back. If I don't call her back in her allotted amount of time she will call my adult daughter and tell my daughter that she is unable to get ahold of me. This in turn worries my daughter as I have health problems so then my daughter will start calling me. If my daughter can't get ahold of me she will call my neighbor and my neighbor will dutifully trek over here to check on me. By the time everyone realizes I am working a 12-hour shift I'm in damage control trying to reassure everyone that I'm not dead on the floor. So if my aunt calls and gets my voicemail I stop whatever it is that I'm doing (even if I'm at work) to return her call. It's invasive but I now know the price of not calling my aunt back right away. I'm not going to change her so I accept that this is the way it is.

Don't expect Miss Daisy to ask about your life. She calls to talk about herself. She's 90 years old and is probably lonely. Let her go on. Do some dusting while she prattles on (this is what I do when I'm on the phone with my aunt---catch up on some quiet housecleaning).

You can always have your husband make the calls. After all, it's his mother.
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