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Just her personality or the dementia?

Champers

Registered User
Jan 3, 2019
239
0
Hello there.
87 year old mother who has been diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s. Mother has always been a very difficult character; confrontational, regularly to lied to everyone to put herself in the best light, had to be the centre of attention, egocentric and her parental care/love was always conditional on myself (only child) being biddable and compliant.

She lives alone - 2 hours away - and I’ve arranged for carers to go in daily to ensure she takes her Donepezil. I have an LPAs for finance/health and pay all her bills etc. The trouble is; every few weeks she kicks off majorly and refuses to take her medication (she has always had a Victorian fear of mental illness and dementia so refuses to acknowledge there might be a problem) The agency have instructions to ring me and I can usually grovel and make all sorts of promises to get her to take it but I’m not sure whether she is enjoying the drama too? Is that unreasonable of me? My husband and I visited her on Thursday and she started another confrontation. I walked away and said I was visiting the loo just to calm down, and she turned to my husband and said, “I love winding her up!”

She regularly calls in tears (has always been able to turn them on and off) saying she is lonely but everything I’ve tried to arrange for her has been either dismissed or treated with total disdain. I really don’t know what she expects me to do? My husband thinks she basically wants me, and me only, at her beck and call. I arranged meals on wheels and she told the volunteers, “I’m not eating that! Take it away and give it to a dog!” It’s almost as if she enjoys the buzz she gets from causing an upset. I feel so guilty even suspecting that of someone who has an awful disease but feel overwhelmed by guilt and sense of duty.

Her neighbours have made it clear that they think I’m not doing enough to support a “sweet elderly lady” but, despite her Alzheimer’s, she can still present a totally different face to outsiders.

She also calls saying how she has a “pain in her chest” from worry but rejects all my suggestions for help - even says she’s going to kill herself. I told her that if she was so anxious and lonely why doesn't she consider a lovely residential home near me. She turned on me and said, “You just love putting me down don’t you?! One day, you’ll be old like me and I hope no one treats you like you’ve treated me!”

I’m so stressed by her behaviour and the fact that she seems to sabotage everything I put in place that I just want to throw everything in the air and say forget it. If it wasn’t for my interventions she probably would have been in care over a year ago.

Thank you for the rant. It’s been a bit of a year with MIL and now my mother!
 

karaokePete

Registered User
Jul 23, 2017
6,279
0
N Ireland
Rants are allowed - they are good for the soul!

I once read that dementia amplifies any difficult personality traits. I suppose that may be because the disease is known to remove awareness of social norms, empathy etc.

I wonder if you have seen the Society Factsheets about care assessments and the thread about communication and if they may be of use to you if you haven't. I'll post links in a minute.
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
74,975
0
Kent
I once read that dementia amplifies any difficult personality traits. I suppose that may be because the disease is known to remove awareness of social norms, empathy etc.

I found this too.

It also allows what was once hidden to surface. My husband was of the stiff upper lip brigade but became extremely emotional with polar extremes. He was aggressive where he was never seen to be aggressive and he cried when I had never seen him cry.
 

TNJJ

Registered User
May 7, 2019
2,348
0
cornwall
Hello there.
87 year old mother who has been diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s. Mother has always been a very difficult character; confrontational, regularly to lied to everyone to put herself in the best light, had to be the centre of attention, egocentric and her parental care/love was always conditional on myself (only child) being biddable and compliant.

She lives alone - 2 hours away - and I’ve arranged for carers to go in daily to ensure she takes her Donepezil. I have an LPAs for finance/health and pay all her bills etc. The trouble is; every few weeks she kicks off majorly and refuses to take her medication (she has always had a Victorian fear of mental illness and dementia so refuses to acknowledge there might be a problem) The agency have instructions to ring me and I can usually grovel and make all sorts of promises to get her to take it but I’m not sure whether she is enjoying the drama too? Is that unreasonable of me? My husband and I visited her on Thursday and she started another confrontation. I walked away and said I was visiting the loo just to calm down, and she turned to my husband and said, “I love winding her up!”

She regularly calls in tears (has always been able to turn them on and off) saying she is lonely but everything I’ve tried to arrange for her has been either dismissed or treated with total disdain. I really don’t know what she expects me to do? My husband thinks she basically wants me, and me only, at her beck and call. I arranged meals on wheels and she told the volunteers, “I’m not eating that! Take it away and give it to a dog!” It’s almost as if she enjoys the buzz she gets from causing an upset. I feel so guilty even suspecting that of someone who has an awful disease but feel overwhelmed by guilt and sense of duty.

Her neighbours have made it clear that they think I’m not doing enough to support a “sweet elderly lady” but, despite her Alzheimer’s, she can still present a totally different face to outsiders.

She also calls saying how she has a “pain in her chest” from worry but rejects all my suggestions for help - even says she’s going to kill herself. I told her that if she was so anxious and lonely why doesn't she consider a lovely residential home near me. She turned on me and said, “You just love putting me down don’t you?! One day, you’ll be old like me and I hope no one treats you like you’ve treated me!”

I’m so stressed by her behaviour and the fact that she seems to sabotage everything I put in place that I just want to throw everything in the air and say forget it. If it wasn’t for my interventions she probably would have been in care over a year ago.

Thank you for the rant. It’s been a bit of a year with MIL and now my mother!
She sounds very similar to dad.He cry’s at the drop of a hat but has good hosting skills ,even with the carers.Dad refuses to go out anywhere except if I take him.We are limited as he gets car sick and he has to go out in a wheelchair.He is “bored “ ,so he says but won’t go anywhere.It is a battle to get him to a home for a bath as he doesn’t need it(he goes once a month in a wheelchair taxi)Apparently it is “against his will”.I have now reinstated the carers to come back at lunchtime with me to assist dad to walk with the frame.But I am like you, in a sense of him being very manipulative and quite controlling.He has always been so .Im an only child too so have always tried to get his approval,but that has never happened.So I’m afraid it will be on my terms now.
 
Last edited:

marionq

Registered User
Apr 24, 2013
6,450
0
Scotland
Hello there.
87 year old mother who has been diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s. Mother has always been a very difficult character; confrontational, regularly to lied to everyone to put herself in the best light, had to be the centre of attention, egocentric and her parental care/love was always conditional on myself (only child) being biddable and compliant.

She lives alone - 2 hours away - and I’ve arranged for carers to go in daily to ensure she takes her Donepezil. I have an LPAs for finance/health and pay all her bills etc. The trouble is; every few weeks she kicks off majorly and refuses to take her medication (she has always had a Victorian fear of mental illness and dementia so refuses to acknowledge there might be a problem) The agency have instructions to ring me and I can usually grovel and make all sorts of promises to get her to take it but I’m not sure whether she is enjoying the drama too? Is that unreasonable of me? My husband and I visited her on Thursday and she started another confrontation. I walked away and said I was visiting the loo just to calm down, and she turned to my husband and said, “I love winding her up!”

She regularly calls in tears (has always been able to turn them on and off) saying she is lonely but everything I’ve tried to arrange for her has been either dismissed or treated with total disdain. I really don’t know what she expects me to do? My husband thinks she basically wants me, and me only, at her beck and call. I arranged meals on wheels and she told the volunteers, “I’m not eating that! Take it away and give it to a dog!” It’s almost as if she enjoys the buzz she gets from causing an upset. I feel so guilty even suspecting that of someone who has an awful disease but feel overwhelmed by guilt and sense of duty.

Her neighbours have made it clear that they think I’m not doing enough to support a “sweet elderly lady” but, despite her Alzheimer’s, she can still present a totally different face to outsiders.

She also calls saying how she has a “pain in her chest” from worry but rejects all my suggestions for help - even says she’s going to kill herself. I told her that if she was so anxious and lonely why doesn't she consider a lovely residential home near me. She turned on me and said, “You just love putting me down don’t you?! One day, you’ll be old like me and I hope no one treats you like you’ve treated me!”

I’m so stressed by her behaviour and the fact that she seems to sabotage everything I put in place that I just want to throw everything in the air and say forget it. If it wasn’t for my interventions she probably would have been in care over a year ago.

Thank you for the rant. It’s been a bit of a year with MIL and now my mother!
@Champers i think you already have a good insight into what is going on with your mother even though you wish you could change it or make it go away. She is very successfully manipulating your emotions and as you say she always has. You are doing a lot to help her and short of moving in with her and becoming a martyr to her dementia you will not be able to change any of this.

What you have to do is change yourself into becoming more detached, more objective. Do what you can to keep her safe and comfortable and then try to get on with your life. In a care home if she refused meds then they would be put to one side and perhaps tried later but they take the view you can’t “force” anything.

I am trying to adopt this approach myself with my husbands eye drops and meds. Either I harden my heart and stop caring quite so much or I get upset and lose my temper. I’ve decided I don’t like the latter so need to do more of the former. Try it and see how you get on.
 

Andrew_McP

Registered User
Mar 2, 2016
281
0
South Northwest
There are two ways of looking at situations like this. One, your mother's personality is being 'simplified' as dementia strips parts of it away, and there's a core part of it which is tied to you and the way she's always treated you. So you're getting treated badly, as usual, and on top of all your other concerns it's making life frustratingly difficult.

Two, your mother is losing grip on everything she's ever known or trusted. She used to be in control of everything -- for better or for worse. Now she increasingly feels like she's in control of nothing. It is the most terrifying, confusing time of her life and it's only going to get worse... until she is no longer capable of being your mother at all. Part of her may know that. If she's lucky, she won't.

One of the lifelines she's clinging to is the strongest tie any of us ever have... to our closest family. She will yank on that line hardest of all because she's drowning as the dementia tide rises and -- just as it's common for drowning folk to put their rescuer in danger -- your mother will put you in danger, mentally.

Which is why I have some happy, clappy scribble similar to this waffle hung up next to my bed as a reminder. Because god only knows (that's the notional god of Beating Your Head Against A Brick Wall) there are times when I swear my mother's just trying to put me in an early grave for the sheer fun of it!

Shes not. She's just a pared back version of the Mum who could always be hard work, who raised four children and ran a business on her own, and never, ever suffered fools gladly. Some days I probably seem pretty foolish though, repeating myself endlessly to try and get essentials done, 'forcing' her to do things she doesn't understand or think necessary. No wonder she kicks off!

On a good day for me I'm only dealing with a muddled old lady with dementia. But that's a bad day for Mum, because she's under the water somewhere. On a bad day for me, Mum's at the surface, thrashing around and aware enough to resent the way our roles have reversed. A lifetime of her being the matriarch is gone. She's become the child, and boy, in her situation I'd resent it too!

Maybe none of this is applicable to you and your mother. Maybe I'm just projecting elements of my life onto you. But one thing is certain... one day you'll miss this exaggerated but still identifiable version on your mother. Breath. Count to ten. Try to remember something nice she did for you when you were young. And accept her anger and manipulation for what it is... a cry for help that nobody on this entire planet can give. We can only give time and patience... and cling to lifelines like this forum when it all starts to wear us down.

Good luck. Caring over a distance is very tough, even if you have carers to act for you.
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
16,684
0
South coast
Two, your mother is losing grip on everything she's ever known or trusted. She used to be in control of everything -- for better or for worse. Now she increasingly feels like she's in control of nothing. It is the most terrifying, confusing time of her life and it's only going to get worse... until she is no longer capable of being your mother at all. Part of her may know that. If she's lucky, she won't.

One of the lifelines she's clinging to is the strongest tie any of us ever have... to our closest family. She will yank on that line hardest of all because she's drowning as the dementia tide rises and -- just as it's common for drowning folk to put their rescuer in danger -- your mother will put you in danger, mentally.

This is just so true. If they can manipulate or emotionally black mail you into doing things they will do - its a survival instinct, and they still know exactly which buttons to push. Im sure that you are right and she just wants you. Marionq is right, the only way to survive is to step back emotionally. Make sure that she is safe and well, but you cant do anything about her happiness and you cant do everything that she wants or she will indeed drown you too.
 

Lawson58

Registered User
Aug 1, 2014
2,678
0
Victoria, Australia
I think you have had many wise words offered soI don't want to add too much.

Sometimes by succumbing to the manipulation of the person with dementia you are enabling them and as their level of reasoning is impaired, they will not see it for what it is. Though you feel a degree of responsibility for your mother, I don't see that you need to subject yourself to what she is doing. It is a form of bullying and you don't have to accept it. Step back for a while, give yourself time to breathe and let her know that you are not available unless it suits you.
 

Rosettastone57

Registered User
Oct 27, 2016
1,636
0
I think you have had many wise words offered soI don't want to add too much.

Sometimes by succumbing to the manipulation of the person with dementia you are enabling them and as their level of reasoning is impaired, they will not see it for what it is. Though you feel a degree of responsibility for your mother, I don't see that you need to subject yourself to what she is doing. It is a form of bullying and you don't have to accept it. Step back for a while, give yourself time to breathe and let her know that you are not available unless it suits you.
My mother-in-law was like this. She had been diagnosed with a personality disorder most of her adult life and was highly manipulative and controlling. She had been emotionally abusive to my husband and his sister all their lives. We had strict boundaries on how often we were with her and what we did for her. When dementia came along, we employed the same strategies and kept her at arm's length ,while making sure she was safe. She passed away last year in the care home and my husband and his sister admitted recently that they didn't miss her at all
 

Glokta

Registered User
Jul 22, 2019
62
0
My mum sounds very similar you yours, manipulative, jealous and narcissistic. Her first thought when my beloved father died was “ who will take me shopping now”. Nonetheless she’s my mum and between me and my brother we manage her. We both teeter on the brink of despair at times and, for example, I have refused to take her food shopping because her behaviour when out is so appalling. She also presents a front to the world which is sweet and charming - but not to us! Lots of suggestions from people here have helped and I’m trying hard not to let her see when my buttons have been pressed. I feel terribly sorry for her though, she’s a little old lady but sees herself as a young matron, she’s loosing control of everything, and it must be incredibly scary. I’ve found over the last few weeks I’ve become more tactile, I touch her hand, or put my arm round her shoulders. It’s hard, because as a child I would have been slapped for mussing her dress, makeup or hair. It’s manipulative too, because I’m going through the motions to get my own way, to get her to cooperate. You need to find what works for you, and do not agree to try anything if you know it won’t work. I refused to accept antibiotics from the GP which had to be given 3 times a day. I cannot get mum to take them, so it just causes tantrums and frustration. She will, however, take 2 a day. And that’s the best we can do. It’s a steep learning curve.
 

Champers

Registered User
Jan 3, 2019
239
0
Thank you all for your kind and supportive words. So much resonated with me and struck a deep chord.

The analogy about drowning is a very useful one. She’s definitely trying to cling to me and I do feel as if if I’m not careful, I will be pulled into her whirlpool of emotion. This is a terrible thing to admit - I don’t love mother and I don’t even think I actually like her, but humanity and duty mean that I can’t just walk away. She’s done some terrible things throughout her life and I struggle even to find many instances of positivity in our mother/daughter relationship. Whenever she did anything kind, there was always payback - either an expectation that I would give her endless gratitude and praise or that I would have to make a sacrifice and give up something that I truly are about or wanted to prove my devotion . My parents often disagreed about my upbringing; sadly my late father preferred to have a quiet life, so often acquiesced, but when he did stand up to her, she would round on me and tell me to look at the trouble I had caused!

The roles have reversed somewhat. She would always tell me what I should be doing, where I was going wrong, comparing me to other ‘better behaved’ children and what a disappointment I was. Ironically, if I received a compliment from anyone, she would quickly claim credit for my upbringing, looks or success. She was very judgemental about others who suffered dementia or mental illness, almost as though they brought in on themselves or it might be catching! Now, she wants me to take responsibility for absolutely everything but perversely lashes out at me, accusing me of making her into a prisoner and that she’s not stupid and I need to stop treating her as such. I need to understand it’s the disease that’s made her into an even bigger monster than she already was, but it’s tricky not to absolutely lose my temper and scream at her sometimes.

I’m sorry - I know this is looking like a “poor me” post. I’m actually very lucky; I have an incredibly supportive husband and like to feel I’ve broken the mould by having a great relationship with my own children - who incidentally cut themselves off from Mother long before her dementia diagnosis, because of her manipulations.

I just wish I could have had a better connection with her before Alzheimer’s took hold but I guess that was always in her hands and now a missed opportunity.
 

Rosettastone57

Registered User
Oct 27, 2016
1,636
0
Thank you all for your kind and supportive words. So much resonated with me and struck a deep chord.

The analogy about drowning is a very useful one. She’s definitely trying to cling to me and I do feel as if if I’m not careful, I will be pulled into her whirlpool of emotion. This is a terrible thing to admit - I don’t love mother and I don’t even think I actually like her, but humanity and duty mean that I can’t just walk away. She’s done some terrible things throughout her life and I struggle even to find many instances of positivity in our mother/daughter relationship. Whenever she did anything kind, there was always payback - either an expectation that I would give her endless gratitude and praise or that I would have to make a sacrifice and give up something that I truly are about or wanted to prove my devotion . My parents often disagreed about my upbringing; sadly my late father preferred to have a quiet life, so often acquiesced, but when he did stand up to her, she would round on me and tell me to look at the trouble I had caused!

The roles have reversed somewhat. She would always tell me what I should be doing, where I was going wrong, comparing me to other ‘better behaved’ children and what a disappointment I was. Ironically, if I received a compliment from anyone, she would quickly claim credit for my upbringing, looks or success. She was very judgemental about others who suffered dementia or mental illness, almost as though they brought in on themselves or it might be catching! Now, she wants me to take responsibility for absolutely everything but perversely lashes out at me, accusing me of making her into a prisoner and that she’s not stupid and I need to stop treating her as such. I need to understand it’s the disease that’s made her into an even bigger monster than she already was, but it’s tricky not to absolutely lose my temper and scream at her sometimes.

I’m sorry - I know this is looking like a “poor me” post. I’m actually very lucky; I have an incredibly supportive husband and like to feel I’ve broken the mould by having a great relationship with my own children - who incidentally cut themselves off from Mother long before her dementia diagnosis, because of her manipulations.

I just wish I could have had a better connection with her before Alzheimer’s took hold but I guess that was always in her hands and now a missed opportunity.

I know exactly what you're talking about. I've seen this behaviour towards my husband and latterly to me. Sad too that other family members had nothing to do with my mother-in-law over the years. It's very difficult to describe such a relationship to others who have had a loving relationship with their family
 

rainbowcat

Registered User
Oct 14, 2015
139
0
Ironically, if I received a compliment from anyone, she would quickly claim credit for my upbringing, looks or success. She was very judgemental about others who suffered dementia or mental illness, almost as though they brought in on themselves or it might be catching!

Goodness, I could have written exactly this about my own mother! :eek:
 

Andrew_McP

Registered User
Mar 2, 2016
281
0
South Northwest
I don’t love mother and I don’t even think I actually like her, but humanity and duty mean that I can’t just walk away.
I was prepared for many things when I, too, started down the duty route. What I wasn't prepared for was loving this vulnerable version of my mother, broken by dementia, more than I ever loved the version I knew that was broken by tough circumstances before and after I was born. She was vulnerable then, as well, but had developed ways of protecting herself which made her seem anything but vulnerable.

Life is complicated, especially when we're dealing with the post-WW2 generation of women that lived through such changes as children and adults. But whatever happens, no matter how good or bad our relationship with our parents, once dementia takes hold we lose the hope that one day they'll become the parent we always wanted.

But there I go projecting again. :)
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
16,684
0
South coast
Now, she wants me to take responsibility for absolutely everything but perversely lashes out at me, accusing me of making her into a prisoner and that she’s not stupid and I need to stop treating her as such.
Mum used to do that to me and she was never a manipulative person beforehand. Its the dementia talking and is almost a hallmark of the disease. This flip-flopping between neediness and trying to maintain control is confusing and very, very wearing.
 

DesperateofDevon

Registered User
Jul 7, 2019
3,280
0
Hello there.
87 year old mother who has been diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s. Mother has always been a very difficult character; confrontational, regularly to lied to everyone to put herself in the best light, had to be the centre of attention, egocentric and her parental care/love was always conditional on myself (only child) being biddable and compliant.

She lives alone - 2 hours away - and I’ve arranged for carers to go in daily to ensure she takes her Donepezil. I have an LPAs for finance/health and pay all her bills etc. The trouble is; every few weeks she kicks off majorly and refuses to take her medication (she has always had a Victorian fear of mental illness and dementia so refuses to acknowledge there might be a problem) The agency have instructions to ring me and I can usually grovel and make all sorts of promises to get her to take it but I’m not sure whether she is enjoying the drama too? Is that unreasonable of me? My husband and I visited her on Thursday and she started another confrontation. I walked away and said I was visiting the loo just to calm down, and she turned to my husband and said, “I love winding her up!”

She regularly calls in tears (has always been able to turn them on and off) saying she is lonely but everything I’ve tried to arrange for her has been either dismissed or treated with total disdain. I really don’t know what she expects me to do? My husband thinks she basically wants me, and me only, at her beck and call. I arranged meals on wheels and she told the volunteers, “I’m not eating that! Take it away and give it to a dog!” It’s almost as if she enjoys the buzz she gets from causing an upset. I feel so guilty even suspecting that of someone who has an awful disease but feel overwhelmed by guilt and sense of duty.

Her neighbours have made it clear that they think I’m not doing enough to support a “sweet elderly lady” but, despite her Alzheimer’s, she can still present a totally different face to outsiders.

She also calls saying how she has a “pain in her chest” from worry but rejects all my suggestions for help - even says she’s going to kill herself. I told her that if she was so anxious and lonely why doesn't she consider a lovely residential home near me. She turned on me and said, “You just love putting me down don’t you?! One day, you’ll be old like me and I hope no one treats you like you’ve treated me!”

I’m so stressed by her behaviour and the fact that she seems to sabotage everything I put in place that I just want to throw everything in the air and say forget it. If it wasn’t for my interventions she probably would have been in care over a year ago.

Thank you for the rant. It’s been a bit of a year with MIL and now my mother!
Hello
Are we living in a parallel universe?
Totally understand, my Mum is from a similar mould; plus I’m adopted - so not a blood relative I’m reminded from time to time.
Can’t add anything to the posts, apart from I wish I had divided my time better between Mum & life. Giving Life the majority!
Neighbours will think you aren’t doing enough until they experience your Mums dementia for themselves.
Keep well & posting
(((((((Hugs)))))))))
 

Champers

Registered User
Jan 3, 2019
239
0
You are all brilliant! And reading your posts and your experiences helps enormously - I can’t thank you enough.

What is particularly fascinating is; I thought my mother was completely one of a kind and whilst I wouldn’t want to wish my experiences on anyone else, it’s makes it all so bearable to realise there’s other parents out there with the same personality traits. No one, outside of my immediate family, would believe what she is (was) truly like. It’s only because my husband, son and daughter have seen her in action that they get what I mean about her. Others, even fairly close relatives, think she’s a fabulously kind and warm character. Even at a family funeral several years ago (before she was affected with dementia) several came up to me and told me that I was very lucky to have such a wonderful woman as a parent and how she needed treasuring. I bit my tongue and ranted on the way home between the four of us!

I feel sad for her that because of her behaviour over the years she has never had a proper grandparent relationship with my children but she had opportunities and could never relate to them - possibly as, with me, she had no real parenting skills. She always loved babies but as soon as a child started developing their own personality with their own opinions, she couldn’t cope.

Interesting about the point you made, Andrew_McP, about the post WW2 generation. Mother was always more concerned about what the neighbours thought and her public image than focusing on what really mattered within the family. Fairly common I think in that era. She was obsessed about “shame” and was very censorious about anyone she considered had who fallen by the wayside.

I know it’s a mistake to self diagnose, but I wonder if she’s always suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder which is heightened by the dementia?
 

Rosettastone57

Registered User
Oct 27, 2016
1,636
0
You are all brilliant! And reading your posts and your experiences helps enormously - I can’t thank you enough.

What is particularly fascinating is; I thought my mother was completely one of a kind and whilst I wouldn’t want to wish my experiences on anyone else, it’s makes it all so bearable to realise there’s other parents out there with the same personality traits. No one, outside of my immediate family, would believe what she is (was) truly like. It’s only because my husband, son and daughter have seen her in action that they get what I mean about her. Others, even fairly close relatives, think she’s a fabulously kind and warm character. Even at a family funeral several years ago (before she was affected with dementia) several came up to me and told me that I was very lucky to have such a wonderful woman as a parent and how she needed treasuring. I bit my tongue and ranted on the way home between the four of us!

I feel sad for her that because of her behaviour over the years she has never had a proper grandparent relationship with my children but she had opportunities and could never relate to them - possibly as, with me, she had no real parenting skills. She always loved babies but as soon as a child started developing their own personality with their own opinions, she couldn’t cope.

Interesting about the point you made, Andrew_McP, about the post WW2 generation. Mother was always more concerned about what the neighbours thought and her public image than focusing on what really mattered within the family. Fairly common I think in that era. She was obsessed about “shame” and was very censorious about anyone she considered had who fallen by the wayside.

I know it’s a mistake to self diagnose, but I wonder if she’s always suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder which is heightened by the dementia?

My mother-in-law had that official diagnosis of NPD before I met my husband, along with anxiety disorder. That's one of the reasons we didn't realise the disorder had developed into dementia, because her behaviour had always been demanding and self absorbed. And to outsiders, as you say, she came over as wonderful. When she died last year, family didn't want a funeral, as my husband and his sister didn't want non family members saying how much she would be missed. My sister in law couldn't bear the thought of a vicar or other facilitator preaching how wonderful she was,when she wasn't. In the end, we had a direct cremation, with no mourners. When we announced to the few family members left this was happening, there was no objection. I don't think any family member cared.