Health and Fitness

Caring for a Narcissistic Parent | Elderly Care

Narcissism is a common problem most families face and can be incredibly difficult to deal with especially if it’s an elderly parent. A Narcissistic individual always thinks they are right, while everyone else is wrong. Moreover, no matter what you do, they will never be thankful and might think it isn’t good enough for them. They always point fingers at you in case something goes wrong.

Thus, as children, it is a lot to deal with when you’re living with a narcissistic parent like this. What makes it more difficult is when you have to care for such an individual. But, they are still our parents at the end of the day, and as children, it is our responsibility to care for them and look after them regardless.

Therefore, this article is for all those people out there who have to care for a narcissistic parent.

What is Narcissism?

Before we get to the tips of how to care for a narcissistic parent, it is imperative to first know the characteristics of such a person.

Narcissism is more of a mental and personality disorder. A narcissistic person always portrays himself/herself as superior to anyone else in the room, and also commonly asks for endless attention, praise and recognition as well. Moreover, you will also notice constant manipulative behavior of a narcissistic person, as he/she will tend to manipulate others around them often, with absolutely no regard to the other person’s feelings or emotions.

Narcissism can be milder for individuals,  but its presence still causes considerable damage. As a parentage, they tend to become more narcissistic, and issues become more severe as well. Moreover, such behavior also brings back all sorts of memories that can make things a lot harder for children to deal with. Narcissistic behavior arises due to various reasons, such as past trauma, or depression, and in extreme cases, dementia.

Tips on Caring for a Narcissistic parent

Caring for a narcissistic elderly parent can be, no doubt, challenging and daunting. Here are some tips you can follow that will surely make caring for your parent easier:

Opt for respite care

Whatever you do, try to encourage your parent(s) to get respite care or other elderly care services. This will help you maintain a social life of some sort of your own so that you can engage in various things that you like to enjoy and that rejuvenate you. This will lessen the risks of caregiver burnout.

Don’t fight or argue with them

It is important not to take the bait, nor fight with your narcissistic parents. Fighting and arguing will only make things worse than they already are before, which is why it is crucial to remain patient with them and try not to speak or argue back. Moreover, arguing or fighting may even worsen their illness, if any. Always try to understand them and realize their criticism is not about you. Remember that your main objective is to care for them, regardless of what they might say out of spite.

It is also important to note never to make a narcissistic parent angry. This is because they will tend to plan revenge in some form or fashion. Thus, always make them look as if they are the most important person in their own limited world.

Don’t stand up to them

It is important not to stand up to your narcissistic parent. This is because you can expect them to come back in unexpected ways with some demands of their own, and will even try to make you feel guilty. Moreover, they will also portray you as if you are being unreasonable and controlling unnecessarily.  Thus, it would be wise to remain quiet and avoid standing up to them.

Always remain calm and patient

In order to survive when caring for a narcissistic parent, it is important to always remain calm and patient with them. If you have a bad temper, it could really make things worse.

Always have an exit strategy in place

Always know when to make an exit, in case things get much worse and you can’t take on more criticism and emotional blackmailing. Moreover, never allow yourself to take on the role of a victim when dealing with a narcissistic parent. Remember, your role is to care for and look after your elderly parents, not take on and tolerate verbal and emotional abuse used by them in order to keep you in control.

Never take what they say personally

It would be wise never to take anything your narcissistic parents say personally. However, this does not mean you should let them harm or hurt you mentally or emotionally. You should, nevertheless, still set some boundaries and stick with them no matter what.

Remember, you are in control of your own emotions and the way you respond. Never take what they say personally, and remember it is their condition talking, not them. Even though your efforts, actions, or care will never be good enough for them, and they might criticize you for doing what you have done for them, never think your efforts are going to waste.

Constantly work with a mental health professional

When caring for a narcissistic parent, it would be wise to keep regular contact with your mental health specialists, such as a counselor or psychologist. This will help you to unwind and sort through your feelings. It isn’t easy caring and dealing with a narcissistic parent every day, and it could build up your stress and worsen your mental health as well. Thus, this is essential when you have to cope with backlashes and emotional blackmail every day.

Set personal limits

It is important to set limits on how many contacts you are willing to make with your narcissistic parent. After setting boundaries, stick to them no matter what.  Try to communicate and set clear boundaries with them. Moreover, if you have taken a decision to stay away completely, communicate it to them clearly and boldly, and follow-through. Therefore, setting limits and boundaries is very crucial when dealing with narcissistic people, because such people lack basic empathy and comparatively less motivation to respect boundaries.

Know that this condition is temporary

You’d be glad to know that most cases of Narcissism are not permanent. A study in 2019 showed that narcissistic tendencies will decrease with age. However, this doesn’t mean you should wait around for this condition to magically disappear with time.

Know you are not alone

Caring for Narcissistic parents could be extremely overwhelming and stressful, as you want to care for your parents as much as you can. However, in case things get worse for you to handle and you think you can’t take it anymore, don’t give up. Know that you aren’t alone. There are countless children taking care of their narcissistic parents, going through exactly, or more, what you are. You can talk with your loved ones, such as other family members or close friends, and share everything with them. You can also become part of support groups, which will help you remain positive throughout.

Take out time for yourself

Try to take out time for yourself as well. You don’t have to spend all day and dedicate your whole day to care for your narcissistic parent. Take out several hours of the and do what you love to do. This will greatly help you to unwind, and forget your worries.

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