19 Tips How To Deal With A Narcissistic Elderly Mother (2024)

Not sure how to deal with a narcissistic elderly mother? This is your ultimate guide to dealing with a narcissistic mum.  

In my role as a life coach, I am often helping clients better understand and deal with the important people in their lives. 

That’s why I’m keen to share this guide with you. 

So, let’s dive in.   

What Is A Narcissistic Parent?

Narcissism, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). It is defined by impairments in interpersonal functioning, most centered around a lack of empathy and compassion for others. A person with NPD believes the world revolves around them. They only really care about their own personal gain.

When you spend time with a narcissist, you may quickly notice:

  • your personal relationship with them is extremely one-sided;
  • they have an inflated sense of self-worth;
  • they have an arrogant attitude, always believing they’re right;
  • they don’t seem to care about hurting your feelings;
  • they lack empathy for any of your problems.

As you can imagine then, a narcissistic parent can make life very difficult for their children or other members of their family.

A narcissistic parent will often either ignore or neglect their kids, or they’ll be overly controlling and restrict their freedom in any way possible. Both behaviors are motivated by the belief that their own feelings are all that matters. 

It is common for children of narcissists to grow up with mental health problems in adulthood. Out of all the personality disorders a parent can suffer from, narcissism is arguably one of the most damning for their children’s development.

Strategies For Dealing With Narcissistic Mother

How To Deal With A Narcissistic Elderly Mother
Photo by cookie_studio on freepik

These strategies will make it easier to deal with a narcissist mother. 

1. Understand The Signs Of Narcissism And Come To Terms With It

It’s difficult to come to terms with the fact that your mother has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Children of narcissistic parents still love them and it would be easy for them to deny that their parents have this problem. Plus, in all likelihood, they might be very good at blaming other people around them.

Still, an important first step for handling a narcissistic mother is understanding that you have one. This guide on the things narcissistic mothers say will help you identify the problem. My respect goes out to you if you’ve already taken this step. 

2. No Contact With Elderly Narcissistic Mother

The easiest and most highly-recommended way to deal with a narcissist is to arrange limited contact or even no contact. Don’t feel guilty for cutting this person out of your life. You are simply protecting your own mental wellbeing by doing so.

The problem is: it’s not always suitable or possible to cut contact with a narcissist, particularly if they’re a relative or one of your co-workers.

In the case of having a narcissistic mother, you might feel bad about causing family rifts or  indirectly cutting yourself off from other family members.

If that’s the case, you can use the following tips to limit the effect of your mother’s narcissistic behavior on your mental health. 

Related Content: Best Ways To Emotionally Detach From A Narcissist

3. Work On Your Self-Esteem

A narcissist will often attempt to tear down other people’s self-esteem in order to boost their inflated sense of self-importance. A narcissist mother might try to destroy the self-belief of their children in order to keep them dependent on parental guidance. She might say that you’re always wrong in order to feel she’s always right. 

It’s important to be aware of this emotional manipulation so you can avoid falling into this trap. These low self-esteem treatment ideas could help you.

4. Put Yourself First

It’s understandable that you want to help your parents and show them love, especially as they begin to get older. Nevertheless, it’s so important to learn how to put your own needs above those of a narcissistic parent.

If your mental health slips, you’re going to feel awful and you’ll be in no position to help anyone. Plus, a narcissistic parent will have no problem taking as much as you’re willing to give and always asking for more. This is a defining element of narcissism. 

So, it’s important that you become comfortable with setting boundaries and putting your own mental and physical health needs first.

5. Call Them Out 

Have you spoken to your mother about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and why you think she might have it? This can be a difficult conversation and it’s normal for you to worry about it hurting your relationship with your mother. It’s also normal for you to expect a narcissistic person to deny such accusations.

However, it remains true that understanding a problem is the first step to accepting that you have it. Acceptance is the first step to seeking professional help. You owe your mother the opportunity to understand what’s driving her kids away from her. 

Related Content: Reactions To Expect When A Narcissist Knows You Have Figured Him Out 

6. Don’t Argue

It’s very difficult not to fall into an argument with a narcissistic mother. However, you’ll find that these arguments rarely achieve a helpful outcome.

It’s so rare that you’ll ever convince a narcissist that they’re wrong. In fact, these arguments will often fuel the narcissism of the other person and make them more argumentative in future. 

We’ll explore alternatives below. But, for now, it’s important to understand the importance of not arguing with a narcissistic parent.  

7. Engage Grey Rock

A narcissist is fueled by attention. When a narcissistic parent argues with their child or any other family member, their narcissism is energized.

A better alternative strategy is to engage ‘grey rock’ when an elderly narcissistic parent tries to engage in conflict. ‘Grey rock’ simply means to show a blank face and not to react to their negative energy. Don’t fuel their narcissism in any way, until they start behaving more positively.

Related: How Narcissists Destroy Empaths: 19 Things You Need To Know

8. Reinforce Positive Behavior    

When your narcissistic mother gets no reaction to conflict, they might flip and begin to praise you instead. A narcissist needs supply somehow, after all.

You might know that reinforcing positive behavior and shunning negative actions works well when you’re raising children or training a dog. Well, it works just as well when you’re trying to deal with narcissistic parents.

9. Build A Support Group

It’s tough to deal with manipulative or abusive loved ones on your own. Unless you have a powerful sense of self-worth, it can be easy to believe their harsh words. So, build a support group when possible.

There are support groups out there for children of narcissistic parents. But, if you have them,  perhaps you can build a group among your siblings, aunties and uncles. Make sure everyone in your group understands the symptoms of narcissism and how to deal with them. This way, you’ll have strength in numbers in your battle to survive your interactions with a narcissistic parent. 

10. Take Some Time To Relax   

Some adult children with unhealthy aging parents make the decision to take care of them on a daily basis. If you’re around your parents, make sure to give yourself time to recharge. Maintain some sort of social life or hobbies that bring you happiness. Otherwise, you’ll become a prime candidate to suffer from caregiver burnout.

11. Work With Mental Health Experts

If you’re struggling to cope with a narcissistic parent, don’t hesitate to talk to a therapist about it. These accredited professionals can help you to improve your mental wellbeing and take more productive steps to improving your relationship with a narcissistic parent. 

12. What Does A Narcissistic Mother Want?

When you have a good understanding of what your narcissistic mother wants, it becomes easier to have a bearable relationship with them. More than anything, a narcissistic mother wants her ideas (that she’s right and the world revolves around her) reinforced.

In some cases, it will be easier for adult children to concede smaller battles. It’ll also help for you to agree that the narcissist in your life is right, while finding a way to still convince them to do something else anyway.

For example, you might agree with your mother that the doctor is silly, but then suggest that they follow the medical advice anyway, so they don’t need to see the doctor again. 

You could use a similar strategy to convince your narcissistic mother to see a therapist. 

13. How Do You Set Boundaries With A Narcissistic Mother?

The most important step to setting boundaries is to be clear about what they are and to be consistent with enforcing them, even when you’re feeling guilty about doing so. If a narcissist senses they can overstep your boundaries, they will do so time and again. 

Once again, these ideas are just as effective as when setting boundaries with children.

Related Content: Do Narcissists Feel Guilt? Key Insights

14. What To Say When A Narcissist Gaslights You

Gaslighting is one of the most common narcissistic tendencies. It’s important to be strong enough not to let a narcissistic person gaslight you. 

When a narcissist tries to gaslight you, it’s not just what you say but how confidently you respond. It’s important not to let them sense that they are getting to you. Don’t show them you feel anxious or that what they said makes sense to you.

From there, stand firm in your truth by confirm the following sentiments

“My feelings are valid.”

“You can’t minimize my feelings.”

“I can talk about how I feel.” 

“I know what I saw.” 

Related Content: What Makes A Narcissist Panic? – Proven Strategies

15. Defending Yourself Against The Aging Narcissist

Daughters Of Elderly Narcissistic Mothers
Photo by cookie_studio on freepik

A narcissistic parent might try to make you feel guilty about the lack of attention or energy you’ve given them. They might suggest you’re letting down the family after all they did for you as a child.

You might feel obliged to defend yourself against a harshly opinionated narcissist, although your pleas will often fall on deaf ears. After all, narcissists tend to feel no empathy for the strains they put on other people.

While it’s important not to fuel their narcissism by falling into an argument, you can explain some of the points we’ve already explored in this article. 

  • They are a narcissist who drains the mental health of those around them. 
  • You have to put your health first. 
  • You’ve set boundaries and you’re not willing to overstep them.
  • You’re willing to support them if they agree to seek special treatment for this mental disorder.

Related Content: EXPERT Tips – How To Talk To A Narcissist

16.  Narcissistic Elderly Mother With Dementia

As a person ages, their risk of dementia increases significantly. Indeed, the early stages of dementia can lead to people developing personality traits associated with narcissism. 

For example, they might start forgetting things or remembering them in a different way. It might come across as gaslighting, when they actually are having memory problems. An elderly person might blame others for their forgetfulness, regardless of their narcissism levels.

So, as you can see, it can be hard to diagnose what’s wrong. Does your elderly parent have dementia or NPD? 

A clearer indicator of dementia is the loss of cognitive abilities and physical health, so keep an eye out for signs of this. It’s also common for a narcissist to withdraw from their narcissistic tendencies once they begin to experience symptoms of dementia, rather than thrive on the attention. That’s another telltale sign to look out for.   

When an elderly parent develops dementia, it can be a huge drain on their adult child (as well as the parent themselves, of course). This is one of the mental disorders it’s highly recommended to enlist professional support for. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Narcissistic Mothers

Let’s round off this guide with the answers to some frequently asked questions about narcissist mothers.

17. Do Narcissistic Mothers Get Worse With Age?

There are stereotypes of unhappy elderly people, which suggest they tend to get more bitter as their life goes on, but there is no evidence to support the theory that narcissism gets worse with age.   

Narcissism certainly isn’t likely to fade with age either though, not unless it’s treated. Sadly, the elderly narcissist doesn’t suddenly develop empathy and compassion from nowhere.

If you’re a child of a narcissistic parent, it’s therefore worth encouraging them to seek treatment as soon as possible. 

Related Content: Super Empath Vs Narcissist & What We Can Learn From Both

18. What Are Narcissists Like In Old Age?

There aren’t too many differences between an older or a younger narcissist. The narcissistic traits they show are likely to be similar, regardless of their age. With that said, an older narcissist might use their fragile age as a means to guilt-trip people into giving them what they want, especially their children or other family members.

19. Daughters Of Elderly Narcissistic Mothers

The narcissistic traits shown by a parent to their child are unlikely to differ too drastically whether it’s their son or a daughter. For a daughter, their comments would be more directed to pierce a woman’s emotions.

“You’ll never get a boyfriend, unless…”

“You think you’re so pretty, but…”

Any More Questions About How To Deal With A Narcissistic Elderly Mother?

Thanks for reading this guide.

If you have any questions on this topic, feel free to leave a comment below. 

It would be great to hear from you.

About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.