My 98 year old narcissistic aunt no longer recognizes me in person but does seem to know me on the phone. She talks about “that other me” in a very paranoid way. What she says is very hurtful. She insists I haven’t come to visit and nobody cares. She then goes on complaining about how she is being treated and all the things that are going wrong. She is even more demanding now and wants me to fix various things she swears are broken ( they are not). She thinks all her money is gone (it is not). I have been the one that always ran to fix whatever issue was upsetting her. We have had an O.K. relationship as long as I placated her. Frankly I am exhausted and really don’t want to see her anymore. Other family members have visited but she insists no one has come. I finally feel free to begin to be myself instead of who she wanted me to be. Should I stop seeing her?

Find Care & Housing
Yes, stop seeing your aunt if doing so will cause her grief. With Alzheimer's, you're not going to be able to convince her you're 'you' or anything else for that matter, so stop trying. Stick to the telephone calls since she seems to know you when you call her. She has no short term memory, so she insists nobody goes to see her in the NH when they really do. My mother does the same thing (with moderately advanced dementia); she continuously tells me that 'not a soul' calls her or goes to see her, which is 100% false, but there's no convincing her otherwise. It's just another sad part of an ugly disease where everybody loses.

If you want to go visit her once a month just to check on her and make sure she's okay, give that a try to see how it goes. You can always go check on her w/o her knowledge as well. You can visit from afar, while she's eating or doing something in the activity room w/o her knowing you're there. Everyone in a SNF needs an advocate to make sure they're being cared for properly by the staff.

Good luck
Helpful Answer (17)
Reply to lealonnie1

My mom lived with us for 12 years as she struggled with dementia. Prior to the disease she was always loving and happy. As she descended into the disease she began to change. At one point, in a very nice restaurant, and totally unprovoked, she suddenly began screaming that my husband and I were trying to kill her. Another time, at home, she started yelling at me for no apparent reason. I stepped out of the room for about a minute and then returned. She had completely calmed down, looked straight at me and asked where “that woman” had gone. I realized then that it was all a sad trick her mind was playing on her. So I calmly replied , “I knew you didn’t like her, so I told her to leave”. Mom’s response was a very thankful sounding, “Good”.

You really can’t take these outbursts personally- the person suffering with dementia can’t really react anymore like the someone we used to know. But if your aunt is well cared for, and not in any personal harm without your visits, you might want to stay away or limit your visits to when YOU feel comfortable. This is unfortunately just another phase of the disease. You’re expecting a normal or reasonable response from your aunt. Unfortunately, that’s a thing of the past. Things don’t get “better” with dementia, no matter how many times you try to “fix” the situation. They just keep evolving in a mostly unpredictable pattern. Take care of yourself first.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to JWorrall

How often do you visit? It sounds like you no longer want to visit your aunt but you're not sure if you should. It's like you feel a responsibility or obligation to visit so you're looking for advice. Well, you're under no obligation to visit. Neither one of you enjoy the visits. If you feel the freedom to be yourself in not visiting, then don't. If you want to visit a lot less often, do that, but don't feel harnessed to her every whim. Her life has been predetermined by her illness, yours is determined by you.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to sjplegacy

If the visit causes anxiety for her and you too, I would stop the visits for a while. Maybe as her Dementia progresses she will just consider you a visitor. Don't tell her your name. Seems to trigger something.

The Dementia brain is so unpredictable and I don't do well with that. My Mom said a few things to me too and I was the only one of 4 kids that did for her. Its the desease, the brain is dying.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to JoAnn29

Yes. Stop. As long as her needs are being met by others, you need not go. Send cards ~ puzzles, coloring books/pencils, small treats... I cannot imagine that in her healthy mind, she would wish for you to feel the way you do. Unfortunately, we cannot “unhear” unkind words from afflicted loved ones and those should not be the memories that follow you the rest of your life.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Susanora

YES - it is not her you are visiting and it is the disease talking. Once someone ceases to recognise you then visiting often causes more upset for the carers because it agitates the resident and they get a lot of hassles after you have left. She doesn't know if people have visited or not so there is no benefit to you doing so. Look after your own health and leave her to be as settled as she can be. You are not letting your aunt down or failing to do what you can for her - unfortunately you have reached the point where you can do nothing and its your health you should now be thinking of.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to TaylorUK

Yes, you should stop visiting her. If she no longer even recognizes you, what's the point in seeing her in person?
Let me tell you something I've learned from many years of working in elder homecare. When you see your aunt in person and she is suspicious because she doesn't recognize you, that visit alone has unnecessarily complicated her life and the job of her caregivers. That upset will have regressed her and could set her back for days.
This is what happens with Alzheimer's/dementia. The slightest disruption in a routine can set them back for days.
Limit the amount of time you spend on the phone with her too. She's clearly out of it and can no longer hold a coherent conversation. Limit how much time you will spend on the phone with her. Answer one call a week from her.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to BurntCaregiver

I think that this is a common occurrence when people lose their 'memory' abilities.

This isn't helping her, in fact, the anxiety is brings is probably quite disturbing to her. Sad, but true.

Even my mom, who has not been dxed with dementia, shows signs of it if you talk to her long enough. She loses track of the train of a conversation and it agitates her and she'll give up and say "I can't remember, I don't care anyway" or something to that effect to shut you down and stop you from talking.

My mom didn't speak to me for almost a year when I was going through cancer treatment. Now I am better and drive her to bingo once a week. She tells me how much I mean to her every.single.time I take her to bingo--because I have value to her. When I didn't, she didn't say a word to me. Just the way it is.

Haven't spoken or seen my MIL in over a year, b/c my presence makes her so angry. No rhyme or reason to this behavior, really.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Midkid58

She has Alzheimers. Thats how they will behave with some people. They have memory problems. They think people steal their stuff..Educate yourself on the disease or stop calling if it is exhausting..she can not help her is not purposeful.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Sadinroanokeva

You need to remember her behavior is due to the disease. It’s not her. Do not take it personal. They don’t understand and trying to change her mind won’t work. Try to change the subject.,how about a snack?? Let’s go for a walk…The weather sure is beautiful today. .. it can be exhausting so remember take care of you also.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to candeelyn
ShirleyB Jun 19, 2021
I don't know why you would continue to subject yourself to this kind of abuse. It certainly isn't helping her in any way and it's a total "downer" for you. What purpose does it serve...if she's being taken care she living alone? or in a "care" situation? If her needs are being taken care of, don't continue to be her whipping post. Get your life back and take care of yourself.
See All Answers
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter