What Happens to Narcissists As They Grow Old?

Narcissists are basically emotionally stunted children whose neediness can become all-consuming as they grow older. They have spent so much time relying on looks, fame, connections, or success in business, and old age strips all of these away.

Many people become happier as they grow older, especially after fifty, yet narcissists find the aging process a constant struggle, and one they continue to lose. After a life spent exerting power over others, this is something they just cannot control.

A narcissist’s ability to charm and impress also diminishes with age, and they become less attractive on every level. Narcissistic supply, or their excessive need for attention and admiration from others, becomes harder to come by. Many will have spouses who have already left them, and gone on to form new relationships. As their children have become adults, they often have stopped allowing themselves to be bullied, and may have pulled back or cut contact from the narcissist’s toxic influence. Their peers, older and wiser as well, will not put up with such a difficult personality. Having always refused to take responsibility, many narcissists find themselves alone, become even more bitter, and continue to blame others for their own disappointments.

Money is often an issue as well. Narcissists are known to spend lots of it to impress others with designer labels and fancy cars. Their poor impulse control commonly leads to expensive addictions and tremendous debt, which might not leave much for them to live on when they are old.

According to Julie L. Hall, author of “The Narcissist in Your Life: Recognizing the Patterns and Learning to Break Free,” narcissists become more extreme versions of their worst selves as they age, which includes becoming more desperate, deluded, paranoid, angry, abusive, and isolated. And, as their power continues to diminish, they become even more desperate to find scapegoats, which often exposes their bigotry, racism, and sexism, a defense mechanism to cover up their own discomfort of having lost so much power.

I was once involved with a family of narcissists. The father had cheated on his wife throughout their entire marriage, and after a terrible divorce, she died. As he grew older, and there was nothing but porn to satisfy his urges, he would spend almost every meal we had together talking about what a wonderful person she was. Decades later, he was haunted by his past, had trouble sleeping, and would mumble to himself about what had happened long into the night.

His adult children, both of whom are also narcissists, resented him, and only retained contact because he was generous with money. They knew that in order to collect their inheritance, which included several pieces of real estate, they had to retain the “idea of family.” As their father grew more incapable of taking care of himself, he became increasingly dependent on them for his basic needs. It got to the point where he refused to leave the house, and gave them complete access to his finances.

His minor credit card debt within months multiplied many times over, as the children used his money to finance their own lives and significant recreational activities. By the time he died, there was a deep dent in his estate. An attorney examining the financials declared it a clear case of elder abuse, though if he didn’t have the adult children, he would have been completely alone.

Had this occurred, he might have experienced a massive mental breakdown, called a “narcissistic collapse,” which may happen once the key source of a narcissist’s ego-stroking goes away, leaving a feeling of victimization and defeat. It is then that the narcissist can no longer manage the charade, their lies and false self are laid bare, and the monster beneath is exposed. At this point, the narcissist may lash out at others, unknowingly maintaining absolute isolation. It is indeed a sight to behold, and occurs frequently with old narcissists.

Help someone else by sharing this story

About the Author:

Leave a Comment:

23 Responses

  1. This describes my
    Sister, cousin, and various people in know
    To a T… it’s amazing how narcissists share these behaviors, right down to their physical movements and facial expressions… all the ones I know g trying
    Older dress like 14 year olds, chase the Unicorn, have stupid hair styles, some are meticulously clean while
    Others are filthy, but all want 100% attention and do stupid thoughtless things and LIE LIE LIE… so very sad. They’re pathetic people.

    1. My Ex Covert Narcissist did this too!
      He’s over 50, rides his skateboard around town (no working car … he has 4 “really cool” antique junkers but not one reliable vehicle), is totally estranged from Family and Friends, no job, no savings, no retirement, no health insurance, dresses in too large ragged jeans, old college T’s and flip flops.
      His only social outlet are other people’s little kids (he volunteers at an After School Daycare) as these Little Ones are the only ones left who are too naive to see through his foolishness. He’s supposed to supervise them but plays w/them to stroke his ego.
      He has a huge family w/many siblings, nices and nephews who have children (most he’s never met) yet lives in a room w/ strangers who want him gone.
      He’s constantly lies about being denied this or that support.
      You’re right… it’s pathetic.

    1. Hi Debra,

      Big question – but we are not therapists/psychologists, nor experts in diagnosis. There’s a LOT of stuff on the internet about this…you’ll get lost in content I’m sure! Quora is a good start…and good luck!


  2. If I am raised by narcissistic parents, am I then also I narcissist my self?

    I see myself as being very sensitiv to other peoples needs and emotions, so I wouldn’t see myself as a Narcissist, but I get worried when I read your posts.

    1. Hi Kristine,

      Being raised by narcissistic parents definitely does not destine you as a narcissist yourself. Keep in mind that we are not therapists – but there is so much information out there on this topic. I would look to the library and at books as well, not just online resources, and much good luck on this journey!


    2. I think that the fact you’re actually worried about this is proof you’re not a narcissist, because if you were you probably wouldn’t care at all 😉

    3. Look up echoist. It helped me understand the role of a child in a narcisist household and how my traits mirrored some narcissistic tendancies

  3. This describes exactly my ex husband whom I left 20 years ago after 19 years of marriage. His next relationship failed after 5 years and I believe he’s now a bitter older man of 71. He has spent most of his money on cruises and entertainment. My only regret is that I didn’t leave years sooner. I was deeply unhappy for a long time. I might have met someone else but, either way, I’m still very wary. Happily on my own and living the best life I can.

    1. Janet,

      So glad you are out and not part of what he has become anymore 🙂


  4. I’ve been married 27 years to a narcissistic, misogynistic, controlling person that is verbally & emotionally abusive. Everyone begs me to leave. I know I should but it frightens me since we have a home in the country and I can garden. Also, I can’t work even though I keep my nursing license current, because my spouse helped indirectly to get a judgement against me 17 years ago that’s on my record. Too much to explain.
    I took care of my mom in our home for 5 years and had to fight to do that! Then last year, I took care of my brother-in-law for 2.5 months until he died. My spouse felt obligated to help but mostly was in the way and angry at me constantly.
    My spouse is now so deaf that the TV volume is constantly blaring. They refuse to get a hearing aid. Refuse to close their bedroom door.! Oh, we’re just
    housemates now because I refused to keep sleeping with my spouse after 2008. I just view my spouse as a geriatric patient. But it is waring.

    1. Hi Matilda,

      It is wearing, and sounds awful, but the choice comes down to whether it’s more painful to stay or if it would be more painful to leave. It sounds like you certainly have your reasons…these things are way more complicated than “everyone who begs you to leave” probably realizes. Hope that whatever you decide to do brings you to some kind of acceptance, and most importantly, that you can stay safe.


  5. It continues, maybe even worsens. At least with mine. I can no longer be a part of her life. She’s 86 and I’m 61.

    1. I have gone no contact with my mother as well. She is 80 and I am 59. I don’t speak to my brother or sister either. They are full of greed and used me along with my mother as the scapegoat. My mother calls but I never return her calls. Last time she spoke with my husband and asked him if everything was ok between the 2 of us. Why would she ask him that question? I’m really done with the emotional drain she’s put on my life. This is why I cant even speak to her.

    2. Hi Pam,

      We JUST did an interview with Marnie Grundman, who is an expert in what you describe here. SHe’s in Canada but her content applies to people EVERYWHERE. She is big on TikTok, as well as Instagram, and has a book out. I highly recommend you take a look at her information, and our interview with her is on our YouTube channel, so you can watch anytime.

      Hope this helps in some way,

  6. my mother just turned 83 I am 47. She is all overpowering. I do all for her, cook, clean, bills, shopping and she told me I don’t do anything for her. She is so demanding, cries if she doesn’t get what she wants.
    I am at my wits end, I have so much anxiety, I can only be there 2 hours.a day, but the work up to going and the calm down after being there is an entire day process. My therapist says I am only responsible to manage her, which I do, and she says it’s not enough. Her therapist says she should be in a home so I save myself. I do not know what to do anymore.

    1. Hi, ARVC. This sounds like so much to manage. As I’m sure your therapist has discussed with you, this is a boundaries issue for you, and that can be so hard when you’ve spent a lifetime under the thumb of a toxic parent.

      As Lisa said to Pam in the last comment, you might find the interview she did with Marnie Grundman helpful as a starting point. We’re also big fans of Dr. Karyl McBride, and she has a book called “Will I Ever be Good Enough?” that would also be a great resource for you.

      Hoping this helps…


  7. I have only recently began to look into NPD for my now 298 year old son. His father, who he disowned at age 17, was a maligned narcissist – I left him when our son was 2 years old. The required visits to his father’s house as “joint custody” has had a lasting effect on our son. In 2020 our son said he was diagnosed as being on the “autistic spectrum” which I took as truth – did some of my own investigation and felt in my heart that was a misdiagnosis. Do you see that happening often?

    My son in Jan 2021 – wrote me an email blaming me for his entire life and asked me to leave him alone completely. Note he has been with the most loving, kindest young lady since they were freshmen in college. She is a very successful CPA and they recently built a home outside Denver, of which I have never been invited. I’m writing you now, it’s 1 week away from Christmas and I’m sitting in a hotel room 20 minutes away from their home. I drove 10.5 hours and I’m wondering what I’m doing here, and at the same time know that for my healing to begin, I have to try to make contact with my son one more time and reach out to my future daughter – in – law. I’ve read everything I can to arm myself for the disappointment I’m probably going to receive later today when I knock on their front door. God give me the courage, the wisdom and the strength to lift my hand to the door and put a smile on my face – with loving eyes to some how reach his heart – a heart which once had my trust.

    1. Hi Judith,

      Much luck with this and your son. We don’t really know anything about diagnosis and mis-diagnosis, as this is not our field…but hope things go as well as possible during this visit…

    2. best of luck Judith, really hope you are received well, just had my NPD father to stay for 4 days and it’s been very difficult, but I’m coming to terms now with having much lower expectations

  8. My 80 year old brother is experiencing this now, with alcohol induced dementia. He has one son and me I am 20 years younger than he is. He has been an alcoholic his whole life, he is horrible mean to us and others. I have pretty much distanced myself from him, he is blind with dementia now and I lived over 20 years with minimal contact him. I told him straight out I will not tolerate him belittling Me, he needs me more than I need him. I have tried to make sure he is cared out if respect for my parents. He is In a nursing home now, but maybe changed to geriatric psychiatric care, due to his verbally violent outbursts with staff. He was recently caught making out with another resident and was told the family didn’t want that kind of behavior because the ladies dementia had left her with the mentality of a five year old. He had always been a ladies man, having run thru more women than I can count his hole life. He became violent with staff when he was told they can only be in community open areas together. I haVe washed my hands of him. He has spent his entire life with this horrible temper and would just ghost family when he was mad or didn’t get his way.

    1. Hi Alice,

      Sounds like a very difficult person, and glad you are finding a way to create distance but still know he’s being taken care of (for your parents’ sake).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *