Do you feel unappreciated? That your care recipient puts extreme demands on you or is even verbally abusive? Many family caregivers find themselves caring for someone with toxic narcissistic behavior. Often the added stress of family caregiving for an older adult with Narcissistic Personality Disorder can lead to extreme anxiety and an almost impossibly challenging situation. How can you know if someone has Narcissistic Personality Disorder? And how can you care for your mental health?
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a severe mental disorder characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance and an excessive need for admiration. It is a debilitating condition that can affect caregivers' ability to provide good care for a person with narcissism person in their charge. Caregivers should be aware of the signs of this personality disorder, so they can more effectively manage it and create an environment conducive to providing quality care.
While diagnosing someone with any mental illness requires a medical professional, you can identify some critical traits of an older adult exhibiting classic narcissistic behavior:
Common comorbidities associated with narcissistic personality disorder are anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, bipolar disorder, and substance use disorder. These mental health conditions can significantly impair functioning and require caregiver or psychiatrist support. Personality disorders can worsen without intervention.
Additionally, some older adults develop narcissistic behaviors after dealing with extreme grief or deep depression following the death of a loved one. Dementia also plays a role in the development of narcissistic behaviors. As the care recipient ages, the abusive behaviors may worsen. As a family caregiver, you may eventually need to step away or plan for long-term care if their narcissistic behavior affects your health.
When caring for someone with narcissistic personality disorder, be prepared and recognize the unique challenges of this job. Set boundaries and look after your mental health while providing compassionate care.
Ensure you get proper sleep, exercise, nutrition, and relaxation. Seek out support groups or a therapist and take breaks when needed. Practice mindful communication to manage challenging situations, and be sure to give yourself enough time away from the person to recharge and refocus.
It's essential to establish healthy boundaries with a narcissistic individual. This can include setting limits on what you will or will not tolerate from them. Be clear, firm, and consistent when communicating your boundaries.
If you care for someone with cognitive decline or dementia, setting healthy boundaries can be particularly challenging. Still, it's essential to ensure the well-being of both you and the person living with dementia.
If you're struggling to set healthy boundaries, consider seeking help from a professional caregiver or support group. They can advise and guide on effectively communicating boundaries with someone with dementia.
Narcissists are often skilled at manipulating others, and arguments with them can quickly escalate. It's best to avoid arguments and, instead, focus on de-escalating the situation.
Dealing with narcissistic behavior can be emotionally draining. It's essential to take care of yourself and prioritize your mental health. This can include engaging in activities you enjoy, seeking support from friends and family, or seeking therapy.
Consider seeking support from a therapist or support group, where you can talk about your experiences and receive advice on how to cope with narcissistic behavior.
Unfortunately, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a lifelong illness. While some symptoms may improve over time, an older adult will exhibit narcissistic behavior in most cases. Disease, depression, or dementia may make the behavior worse. And some older adults who have never demonstrated narcissism before may show signs of the disorder later in life. Protect your physical and mental health.
While you cannot control someone else's behavior, you can manage your own. Practice both empathy and patience. Work on de-escalation techniques. You may benefit from professional counseling if narcissistic behavior affects you.
Caring for someone with narcissistic personality disorder can be challenging and draining. Practice self-care and understand how to set healthy boundaries. Be mindful of mental health while caring for a parent with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Maintaining your health will help you be a better caregiver.