My 80-year-old MIL lives about five hours from us. She has some kind of dementia, although she's never been formally diagnosed, as she is "too busy" to see a doctor.
Basically, she has memory problems. For instance, she asked me in a recent phone conversation if I'd ever been to her house, even though I've been there many times. She also asks the same question over and over, seemingly having forgotten the answer.
MIL has never been a good listener, as she is a classic narcissist who only cares about herself. If the conversation isn't about her, she tunes out. She's always been that way, but she's gotten much worse in the last five years or so.
Lately, she's starting to accuse my husband and me of saying preposterous things to her. She interpreted my husband telling her that we want her to stay in her house as long as she's capable of caring for herself and the property (which is large, BTW, consisting of a three-story house, a rental cottage and a studio/garage with upstairs living quarters) to mean that he intended to send her to a nursing home ASAP. Her screams and ranting, complete with cursing and tugging at her hair would have done credit to a lunatic. No matter how my husband explained that he'd said nothing of the sort, she kept insisting that he apologize immediately. We got her diverted into talking about her favorite topic (herself, and how intelligent and beautiful she is -- she's a former college professor and she used to be very attractive, but now she looks like Gollum in a white wig. Her narcissism is indeed breath-taking.)
Next, she accused me during a telephone conversation of threatening to have her arrested because she hadn't filed her income taxes. All I'd said was that she was over a month late in filing, and if she didn't do it soon, she'd get another letter from the IRS like the one she got last year that sent her into a tailspin because she thought it meant she would lose her home. She has loads of money, but she's become fearful lately about her finances, Her way around that is just not to pay some of her bills.
What I wonder is, does she really believe we threatened to put her in a nursing home and have her arrested, or did she just dislike hearing about topics that troubled her, and she shut down and became paranoid?
Her hearing is fine. I'm disturbed that she gets so worked up, and seems convinced that we're out to get her. We've never done anything to make her think that way.
I'll add that there's quite a bit of mental illness in her family. Her mother was a paranoid schizophrenic, and my MIL definitely has delusions of grandeur. The reality in which she lives has never been reality as the rest of us know it. Could her lifelong "loopiness," as my husband generously calls it, be getting worse, or is she deliberately lying? She's always been a master triangulator, and she says odd things about other people, often of a sexual nature, that I find hard to believe. Could she just like slandering people and creating distrust among her extended family?
Does anyone else have an angry, narcissistic parent who makes incredible accusations? How do you handle it?