One of the worst fears that a narcissistic mother has is getting older. It’s worse for the female narcissist than it is for the male narcissist since your narcissistic mother has often relied on her looks to manipulate people in her life. She fears that when those go, she will be seen for what she truly believes herself to be – worthless. Adding dementia to the mix complicates matters tenfold.
Since narcissists rely on their intellect for manipulation and to demonstrate their superiority, your narcissistic mother will panic when dementia begins to progress. It’s a time when she is at most risk for suicide. To deal with it, you will most likely require professional help at some point.
While the effects of dementia are devastating for the aging narcissist, there are times when their non-narcissistic side appears and this may help you to strengthen your relationship with your narcissistic mother. Even so, the cognitive decline will eventually create the need for professional help to care for her. Let’s explore how dementia progresses and how your narcissistic mother’s needs will change in each stage.
How to Deal with Progressive Dementia in Your Narcissistic Mother
Dementia attacks areas of the brain in random order, and so, it’s difficult to predict exactly how it will progress in your narcissistic mother. No matter how it affects her, however, she will see this devastating disease as unacceptable.
It’s during this time that she is most at risk for suicide, and narcissists are often very likely to follow through on these kinds of threats. Narcissists don’t typically threaten suicide as a means of getting attention; instead, they will follow-through on their threats.
Most narcissists would rather die than live with being considered fallible and being dependent on someone else. Their entire false image is built upon the idea that they are superior and almost superhuman. They have mocked other people for being vulnerable.
The idea that dementia could cause them to be completely vulnerable and completely dependent on someone else is simply intolerable for them. That’s why you need to be aware that this is a possibility if you’re caring for a narcissistic mother. To fully deal with her dementia, you need to understand the stages and what to expect in each. Let’s examine those.
Early Stage – No Cognitive Decline
This first stage is what experts call pre-dementia. Your narcissistic mother won’t show any symptoms at this point, but the problem may be identified with medical tests. Of course, at this stage she is behaving normally.
Very Mild Cognitive Decline
At this stage, your narcissistic mother will typically become forgetful. This forgetfulness won’t impair her ability to function, however, and it’s likely that she will blame her forgetfulness on others. This is really little difference with how she behaves normally when she makes a mistake.
Mild Cognitive Decline
During this stage, your narcissistic mother’s forgetfulness is more consistent, and she may also find that she can’t concentrate on tasks that take a long time. If she is working, her performance will decline.
During this stage, your narcissistic mother will undoubtedly notice she is having problems, but she won’t want anyone else to know. She will hide it from you and anyone else in her life. Because she is feeling vulnerable, her rage will be more easily triggered, and as is common for narcissists, she will project her flaws and feelings onto others.
Moderate Cognitive Decline
This is still considered an early stage, but it is at this point that your narcissistic mother will not be able to hide the decline in her cognitive abilities anymore. She will clearly struggle to remember past events.
She may also do things like accidentally sending too much money for a bill or getting lost in new locations. Though she won’t admit it, at this stage complex work tasks become too difficult for your narcissistic mother.
Because of the embarrassment, it’s at this stage that the narcissist will typically withdraw from friends and family. Though they can function normally for short periods, they are often exhausted by the energy it takes to stay focused. They disengage in an extreme fashion that may even make them seem as though they are catatonic.
At this point, it’s time to consider a full-time assistant whether that’s a family member who she can live with or a professional. Her need for assistance is only going to grow from here on out.
Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline
This is really considered the middle stage of dementia. At this point, your narcissistic mother’s memory deficits are so significant that even common tasks are becoming difficult. For a narcissist, if they have help from a caretaker who will pamper them and tolerate their aggravation, they may be able to weather this stage fairly well.
For those narcissists who don’t have such assistance, This stage can cause them to become severely depressed. It’s in this stage that they may begin to forget the people in their life, but your narcissistic mother will be able to remember what she valued most in life.
If she felt her family was important, she’ll remember them best. If she highly valued her work, she may begin to forget family memories even as she is able to remember a deal she negotiated. It is at this stage where you will need to make some big decisions about how you will care for your narcissistic mother going forward.
Severe Cognitive Decline
This is the next phase of mid-stage dementia. It’s at this stage where many narcissists will follow through with committing suicide. They are no longer able to take proper care of themselves, and they often have embarrassing problems like incontinence.
For you, this is a stage where you might see what your mother would have been like if she had not been a narcissist. That can create some poignant memories that you will treasure after she is gone. There’s no doubt, however, that your narcissistic mother will need professional assistance at this stage.
It’s also at this stage that she may have delusional thinking as well as angry outbursts and extreme paranoia. Your narcissistic mother will be very convincing too, so you’ll have to watch out so that you don’t get drawn into her delusions.
Very Severe Cognitive Decline
This is late stage dementia where your narcissistic mother will have very little communicative abilities and poor to no psychomotor skills. She may not be able to walk at this stage. It’s at this point that she is merely a shell of who she once was.
Your narcissistic mother won’t be able to recognize herself or other people from her life, and all of her narcissistic traits will have disappeared along with her personality. This is undoubtedly the most heartbreaking stage because the person is effectively gone. They do require professional assistance at this stage, and you should be preparing for her eventual death.
How Do You Prepare?
For the children of a narcissistic mother diagnosed with dementia, there’s a difficult mix of emotions. On the one hand, your mother wasn’t a good mother, but on the other hand, dementia reduces everyone to their most vulnerable human state which is painful to watch.
Of course, you will need professional assistance for the later stages of dementia, and you’ll need to prepare for that. You’ll also want to utilize the early stages to prepare yourself emotionally. You should say any goodbyes or take the opportunity to tell her anything you might regret not telling her after she’s gone.
You might also use this diagnosis to develop compassion for your narcissistic mother. That may sound contradictory to everything you want to say to her, but it will ultimately be the best thing you can do for yourself. To really heal, you need to forgive her, and then, you can forgive yourself.
Dementia destroys your mother’s narcissism, but it also destroys her personality. If you can appreciate those moments when the narcissism disappears before her personality goes, that may give you some insight into the real person who lives inside your mother’s false image. That, in turn, may give you just what you need to heal the emotional trauma she inflicted on you.
As you watch your narcissistic mother’s dementia progress, you also know where it will end. You’ll want to prepare for that time too, and this article about how it feels when your narcissistic mother dies can help.
If you want more tips for dealing with narcissists, setting boundaries, and managing emotional triggers, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel