Can a dementia patient truly miss someone if they don't even remember?


Even if they don't remember where that person lives, what their name is or what relation they are?
My 84 year old mother is in mid to late mid-stage dementia. She has suddenly started writing letters that claim that she misses my brother terribly (we live 1,000 miles apart). Thing is, she can't ever remember WHO it is that she's writing these letters to. Example: Last pm in the throes of one of these letters she asks me "what's the name of my relative that lives in Pittsburgh?" You don't have any relatives in Pittsburgh anymore. "Yes, I do.'s a male...a cousin, I think." Nope. No relatives in Pittsburgh & your only cousin is a female in NC. "No. He works in the meat a butcher." Sorry, Mom, not sure who you mean. "Yes, you do. His last name starts with an 'R'." Do you mean Randy? "IDK...maybe." Well, he doesn't live in Pittsburgh, he's her son, not her cousin, he works in insurance not as a butcher & his first name starts with the 'R' not the last name. If she basically doesn't remember any details about my brother, is she REALLY missing him? I can't just take her back for a visit because it's a 17 hr drive and, mostly, I have no one to care for my livestock & farm while we're gone. I also fear from some of the things she has said lately that she is reliving a neighborhood where she & Dad lived in the late 50's & early 60's. I can't help but wonder if she's still gonna be unhappy even if we make the trip because it's not gonna to be the "right" neighborhood.

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I think they may remember the bonds, the emotional attachments, the positive and reinforcing memories and concepts that they shared with a particular person. I think it's sometimes the same with homes where we lived when we were younger.

Just my amateur opinion, but events, people, places and similar markers are part of the positive aspects that are stored in our brains, and perhaps drawn upon when life becomes too challenging to otherwise face.
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My Mom has ALZ DZ about the same stage as your Mom and she was doing the same thing. Every evening she was wanting to contact her family in the Midwest. Poor Mom didn't remember that all her brothers and sisters and parents were deceased. All she had left were some nieces and nephews and three sister in laws. Every evening she would be so upset at this news and to be honest it was driving me nuts. So one night we sat down and I had her dictate a letter to one of her sister in laws. It was a short brief note but she seemed much calmer after and it has been about a week now and we haven't had any of our evening ordeals. Maybe that was all she needed, just to feel she was not forgotten and still connected.
I think even though they are confused in the details they do remember bits and pieces of the past and it's this scattering of memories that makes it so hard for them. My Mom would like to go back and visit the farm but we won't be making that trip. It's 1500 miles and physically she would have a hard time and once there I doubt if she would even recognize it as the farm has changed so much over the years. Better to live with her happy memories of the place.
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I know what your going thru my mom has Dementia for the past 4 years. She remembers things 20-30 years ago, but present incidents she is having a hard time to remember. What we can try to do is constant reminding her of her love ones, and sweet memories, It hurts for me to see my mom in this situations. i am hoping that they will still remember. I am not working and giving my full attention to my mom that is what they need..I will pray for your moms well being..God Bless!!
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Don't even think about making this trip. It will accomplish nothing given her level of dementia. Don't argue and correct her or play 20 questions. Just tell her what she wants to hear, divert her attention, fib when you have to and keep her calm. There are some excellent articles on this site for dealing with dementia.
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