DEAR ABBY: My 87-year-old mother is narcissistic, self-absorbed and extremely cruel. Her physician has consulted with my sister and me and verified these challenging traits. When she says something or acts out, she'll say, "I am who I am, so don't expect me to change."
How can my sister and I deal with the needs of an elderly parent who continues to verbally and emotionally mistreat us and others? My sister is beginning to react in a defensive, angry manner (rightfully so), and all I do is cry and feel guilty for wanting to get away from her. -- REACHED WIT'S END IN LOMA LINDA, CALIF.
DEAR REACHED WIT'S END: Because your mother is behaving the way she always has, her unpleasantness can't be blamed on old age. The next time she acts out and tells you, "I am who I am, so don't expect me to change," respond by saying: "That's right. You are who you are, but I don't have to subject myself to this. If it happens again, I'm out of here." Then follow through.
If that doesn't discourage her unpleasant behavior, consider hiring a social worker or licensed caregiver to see her needs are attended to. That's not abandonment; it's self-defense.