Is it wrong to be resentful of an aging narcissist? Any help/ideas?

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My husband is 85 years old. I am 67. I knew there would be a time in my life when I would likely be a caregiver to him. We've been married 33 years. About 18 years ago he had three TIA's and while recovering from that his only daughter died of cancer. He went into deep depression. He has been off and on again treating the depression. But also, the depression, I believe he's allowed his narcissistic tendencies to over take his personality. What I'm saying is that he has been very, very narcissistic in the last 15 years or so. He was not like that when we married (?). How can a person be kind, loving and fun-loving for 15 years and then be ugly, mean, and so selfish? I struggled for years to understand and coax and plead with him to be nice to me, but I've given up. Now my situation is even worse because he is struggling with Mild Cognitive Impairment. As a narcissist, he is not willing to accept that he does things wrong (like putting the dirty dish in the cupboard instead of the dishwasher) and he absolutely won't let me be right. I've been dealing with this "new man who used to be my sweet husband" for so many years and it's only getting worse......

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I can understand what you going through my father is also extremely self absorbed.Only difference is he has always been like that and has never been depressed.I am living alone with my parent and every day is extremely difficult.I have even got epileptic fit due to stress, after which the incompassionate behaviour of my family is making it difficult to recover.
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Thank you, thank you, thank you, Everyone. I'm grateful!
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You certainly have gotten some good responses above. I know that if it's determined that it might be more than cognitive impairment, you might get more relief. At first, I didn't know what was causing my LO to act so odd, argue, disagree, falsely accuse, nit pick, lie, etc, but, later it all made sense. She had Vascular Dementia from multiple strokes.
There is also a condition called Anosognosia, where the patient is not mentally capable of accepting a diagnosis.So, processing this, complying, etc. is not likely something he can do. All we can do, is all we do to manage with them.

Even though, your husband may not allow you to accompany him to his doctor apt. Would you be able to provide the doctor some information behind the scenes? It might help the doctor know the truth of what he's going through.

If he's also refusing to take medication that might help with anxiety/depression, that's tough too. I will add that as his condition progresses, he may become less negative and more compliant. That's what happened with my LO. She actually became quite nice and appreciative and didn't resist her medication anymore. So, it may be that the hurtful behavior will eventually fade out. Of course, that brings its own set of issues.

I would read a lot about cognitive decline and dementia, get support from family, friends and online sites, get a legal consult so you know where you stand and can  confirm what help you might be entitled to, etc. 

I hope that you can get some help, take breaks and find some peace. I know it's tough.  
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Jeanne is absolutely right, only I'd put it more strongly - I think it's imperative that you report any changes in your husband's behaviour or mood to his doctor; because if your husband is being "creative" with what he tells them, and is ignoring their recommendations, he's going to land himself in serious trouble medically.

I do think that what is applicable to you of Jeanne's experience is keeping firmly in mind that your husband's brain disease isn't his fault and isn't something he can control. It's messing with him, as well as with you.

Incidentally, high bp puts him at risk of stroke. If he starts tinkering with that medication then you're going to have take things out his hands. Do you have any supportive friends or family members around?
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It certainly has been a long haul, and it sure sounds like you are handling it well.

I suggest making a list of the behaviors that concern you and sending that to his doctor. The doctor may not be able to respond to you out of confidentiality concerns, but it would be good for his medical advisers to have a clearer picture of the situation.

Hang in there! And heartfelt hugs to you!
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Thank you for your answers, Country Mouse and Jeanne. I am being a good caregiver to my husband and hiding the fact that I am resentful of the changes in him. He treats high blood pressure and that is all. He will not believe the diagnosis from the doctor. That's why he treats the depression on again off again. He decides when he needs the medication. Usually he will not allow me to go to the doctor with him because he lies to the doctor about symptoms. And I do know from times I've been with him that he lies about what the doctor has said to him. (in other words, he is his own doctor) I absolutely will not argue with him about right or wrong. I just don't want to argue - it's not worth it. But he does watch everything I do and tells me that I'm doing it wrong. I really don't talk to him much because he contradicts what I say or argues with me over anything...the way I hang the clothes on the line or the depth setting on the lawn mower. I try to stay away from him just for my own peace. He's very bumbly and confused sometimes, so I wait until he not looking and fix things after him. (I found cat food in the horse bucket one time...I double check everything he does!) I'm just getting tired. It's been a long haul for me......
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Dear pcampbell,

I'm sorry to hear about everything you are going through. I know its hard to cope with a drastic change in personality. I am not excusing your husband's behaviour and the effect it has had on you. But I wonder if the three TIAs has affected him deeply. Vascular dementia is escalating? The side effects of medication? Plus the depression, its all a vicious circle. I certainly don't have any easy answers. Us caregivers try to fix one thing and then something else seems to need fixing.

I was so frustrated with my dad after the stroke. He was sad. I'm sure sad about all the things he couldn't do anymore. I tried to give him all his favorite foods, bring him the paper and get his daily coffee from his favorite place. But things were escalating. I wish I had taken a better approach before his death. It still hurts me.

Please talk to his doctor. Get a second or third opinion if necessary. Maybe consider counselling or talking to a therapist. I know its tough but maybe its time for assisted living or a nursing home. You also have to consider your own health and well being.
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I don't know how you could help being resentful! Feelings aren't "wrong" -- but you are accountable for how you act on them.

My husband had dementia the last 10 years of our marriage, but was not remotely narcissistic, and I know that is a different kettle of fish altogether. So what I'm going to relate may not be applicable in your situation.

I realized that what I was really resentful of was not my husband, Coy, who certainly did not ask for his cognitive and behavioral problems, but the disease itself (or fate or destiny etc.) Coy knew he had Lewy Body Dementia and we could resent it together. We could be angry at "that darn Lewy" together.

I tried to reassure Coy that he was still valued and loved. I would tell him, "You have a very good brain. You had an excellent education. Your memory is top notch. But Lewy is getting in the way of using your memory right now. So I'll be your memory for you."

I tried very hard not to make decisions or requests a power struggle. "Of course you can carry a full tray! You've been doing it for decades without problems. But we both know that Lewy can pop up and cause problems without warning, so how about I carry the tray and you go pick up the straws and napkins over there?"

If he put a dirty dish in the cupboard, I'd wait until his back was turned and stick it in the dishwasher (and also the dish he set it on.) I'd try to preserve his dignity. I knew that with dementia he was not going to "learn" where to put the dirty dish, so why make a fuss?

If your husband doesn't accept that he has MCI then my approach might not be applicable. But it might help a little if you give up on who is "right." If the MCI progresses into dementia, things may very well get worse for you. I suggest that in your circumstances you place your husband in a care center as soon his disease justifies it. Visit him. If you are not living with him it will be easier to remember that man you dated so many years ago.
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Mild cognitive impairment, eh?

What caused the TIAs, what preventive treatment has your husband had since then to keep the cause under control, and has anybody checked recently that it's still working? What do his most recent work-ups say?

I'm afraid that your husband's personality change, gradual over such a long time as it has been, may have an organic cause which it is beyond anyone's power to remedy. And also afraid that it will continue to get worse.

Of course it isn't wrong to feel resentful. You married somebody lovely and then, after a terrible time in his life, he gradually morphed into somebody you wouldn't have married if he'd been the last man on earth. Not fair.

Do you still love him? I know that's a big question; but if you're going to stick with it... It is something you'll need to ask yourself about searchingly.
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