How can I deal with a manipulative, narcissistic Mom who seems to me to be deliberately undermining her mobility? -

How can I deal with a manipulative, narcissistic Mom who seems to me to be deliberately undermining her mobility?


I think she wouldn't care if she couldn't walk and is trying to pressure me into moving in with her and waiting on her hand and foot. There is a new geriatric program at the hospital which is literally around the corner that assesses and treats mobility problems but she ignores it. She simply doesn't move unless totally necessary and that will destroy almost anyone's mobility. She refuses to use a walker or any other aid as it makes her look old. Well, she is ninety.

I think she tries to make herself sick in other ways too. She says she has had dozens of urinary infections but she doesn't wash. Washing increases the hot water bill. No. she is not a pauper but actually rather well off, so well off that it is obvious to anyone who knows her even casually. If a neighbor mentions that she is well off, she thinks they are spying on her. She loves to playact at being poor but it is obvious she isn't. She also bitches when I want to take a shower. Her house is the most hygiene hostile place I have ever seen.

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First, DO NOT under any circumstances move in with her,it will not make her better. Also,if she is in her 90's, that means you are no spring chicken, and I don't mean that to be an insult. My 78yr.old mother still acts like I can do things that I would have to be a teenager to accomplish, but this is how she sees me.She will actually respond better to a health care professional because she knows they won't play her games, they have no emotional attachment to her that she can manipulate.Also, has she been screened for dementia.? Dementia on top of a personality disorder is a perfect storm.You will not cure or fix it.So unless you are prepared to go thru the process of declaring her incompetent you are unfortunately going to have to wait till "something" happens,like a fall to be able to intervene.Some people are their own worst enemy.I don't know your family situation but you need to start looking at legal terms such as POA, MPOA, DPOA. If you have siblings, start talking to them now about a game plan before "something" happens.Let mom get angry,and she will so be ready.
Helpful Answer (6)

Heed the warnings - DO NOT MOVE IN. There is more going on here than just mom not washing herself and not being active. Both of those are giant red flags to me anyway.

I agree with the dementia checkup. You can call her doctor ahead of time to discuss your concerns and let them know to handle this delicately, so she doesn't get agitated or angry.
Dementia is not just forgetting. It's loss of reasoning skills, which happens more profoundly than memory loss, but people don't pick up on it. Loss of reasoning skills is DANGEROUS, and that person should not be living at home alone or even unsupervised for any amount of time.

The doctor's office can test this very easily. There are several different questionnaires that can be used, but most have the person do things like draw hands on a clock for a specific time, write a check, do simple math, follow instructions on some pill bottles, cook something, remember words, answer questions about a story, etc. Things you can’t fake your way through with charm and personality.

My mom was living like a shut-in hoarder 1800 miles from me because she was no longer mentally capable of doing anything about it. She herself was not clean and she kept a UTI. The house was disgusting. Everything in it was sticky and the smell of rotting food and Depends would knock a rhinoceros over. She would shift piles of clothes from here to there, never putting anything away. Clean mixed with dirty. The state of the bathroom was beyond words. She could not have gotten clean in there if she had wanted to. She would rather have the community think her the weird old woman in the spider-web covered house than think she needs help (senile in her words).

She had stopped doing her normal things. She had always been an avid shopper, and that stopped. Then going to the store, pharmacy, and doctor stopped. Then going outside stopped. She no longer would even step out on the back deck. Not because she was lazy, but because she was afraid of getting lost in town, and in her very own yard. She had even stopped going any farther than from the toilet 5 steps away from her bed, to the recliner 10 more steps away. She kept all the lights off and the shades drawn all the time because “lights are expensive”. That was something drilled into her in childhood, during the depression and post-WW2 years. I also think she could then see the mess around everywhere and it upset her because she couldn’t fix it.

The house has some really big repairs it needs, and mom took no action on them because it was simply beyond her abilities. Going through the mail was too complicated, so she had gone into collections on some things she could have easily paid for. Sorting her meds was too complicated. She had 85 bottles of expired & excess pills we sent to the pharmacy to dispose. So much money wasted on auto-fill Rx she didn’t need because she wasn’t taking them as directed, or at all.

Putting my mom into a senior residence that goes from independent apartment all the way to hospice was the best thing anybody ever did for her. She is still a narcissistic bi-polar dementia patient, but she is clean, safe, fed, appropriately medicated, and put into appropriate activities every day. She gets PT as well, which is so good for her when she'll do it. Living with me and my family was NEVER an option. She did for a bit under a month, and let me tell you, it was a nightmare from start to end. Very traumatic.
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"I couldn't possibly do that" "that doesn't work for me". These are neutral, non-aggressive ways of saying no. Practice them.
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I have found(being sarcastic) that it is all in the way you say NO!!!!!!!!!! Yes, I have tried the non-aggressive assertive approaches with my Narc mom, that's like throwing bb's at an elephant.What works for me is I literally physically remove myself from around her. Tell her in a monotone nonaggressive voice that when she wants to talk to me like an adult I will be glad to talk with her and then I leave, usually go outside.Also ,if I am silent during one of her tantrums and show absolutely no emotional reaction this seems to work the best , she gets no nourishment from my emotions to feed her narcissism and she finds the behavior baffling and can't get around it.I literally let her wear herself down.She is really being on her best behavior at present as I have been sick for the last 4 weeks and this has really shown her how much I do in the background that makes her life easier and smoother,that is at least a silver lining in being sick, of course I had to feel like I was dying for her to see this ,oh well, whatever it takes.
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Amen to what Texarkana wrote. If you move in, you could end up trapped in the circumstances. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone when there are other options. It sounds like your mother is one of the tough types. It will probably make you feel guilty to not move in. But really, what right does someone have to ask another to give up their life for them? I've always suspected that parents who do this to their children have problems with narcissism.

My mother is the same as yours when it comes to moving. It is a beautiful day out, but all she wants to do is sit and watch TV. Soon I know she won't be able to walk, but I can't make her move. I have let her know that as soon as she can't walk around to tend to herself that I wouldn't be able to care for her anymore. I will stick to that rule.

I don't know what would have happened if I had not moved in with my parents. It might be nice to go back and find out. There must have been a better way.
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agree: if you can avoid it, DON'T MOVE IN. just read the rest of the horror stories here. You will not be appreciated, you will be bullied, dragged down, ground into the dirt with no remorse on her part. Let her fall, let something happen, let the state move in and handle it, provided you don't live in a state that forces you to help this creature.
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Thank you for your answers. I have decided against moving in with my mother, at least partly because of this site. I feel like I am fighting against some sort of subconscious programming. Do you ever find yourself doing something at the last minute that you said you would never do?

You are right, Texarkana, I am no spring chicken, past retirement age myself. I am relatively healthy but older people like myself need to work at health which I do. My mother thinks I am about twelve and none too bright at that. This is no longer cute. I don't want to be around her any more.

As for dementia, I wonder too. She doesn't have the extreme loss of memory and sounds OK if you talk to her. I used to think that dementia was only loss of memory. I can't assess her reasoning as she has always been irrational, always believed whatever she wanted to, garden variety narcissist without the brains to be really dangerous except to her family, of course. Your idea, sandwich, about contacting her doctor, is good. The geriatric program at the hospital is set up with specialists to assess mental functioning. I can't persuade her to go, but maybe her doctor could. We might all be better off if she was more openly gaga.

This shower thing - I feel like she is trying to start a fight or power struggle. The feeling that I can't even take a shower without feeling guilty makes me miserable.
All this upset and I don't even live near her.
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Movingup, stick to your resolution - you are on the right track. If you were to move in it would surely damage your health, and really would not help her. In short, a waste of effort.
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