Forgetfulness can strike just about anyone at any age, and is often attributable to a common and relatively harmless cause. From changes in sleeping habits to certain types of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, periodic and minor memory lapses can be perfectly normal.

However, if you've noticed your forgetful moments ramping up in frequency, or if you've had other physical indicators that something's not quite right, like a few back-to-back fender benders after decades of perfect driving, a foggy or concussed feeling when you wake up in the morning or a change in appetite or energy level, you may be dealing with a more serious ailment that could require medical intervention.


While "dementia" can be a scary word, it doesn't need to be a death sentence for your memory. Many types of dementia are easily treatable with medication and lifestyle changes, and sometimes, any memory loss you've already experienced may even be reversible.


Read on to learn more about some of the most common forms of dementia, as well as what you can do to seek treatment and slow the progression of this frustrating but often manageable condition.


Lewy Body Dementia (LBD)

If you've been reading medical journals and wondering why there are so many references to the initials you know as "little black dress," you've likely been learning more about Lewy Body Dementia.


This category of dementia, which includes conditions like Parkinson's disease, is characterized by the presence of "lewy bodies," or a special type of protein, in the brain. 


LBD can often manifest in those deemed "too young" for dementia but who have suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI), like football players, military veterans or motorcycle accident victims. Often, the symptoms of LBD may take years or even decades to manifest, making it difficult to pinpoint the precise cause.


LBD differs from other types of dementia, including Alzheimer's, and proper diagnosis is crucial to treatment. There are certain medications that can be quite effective for those dealing with LBD, while other medications that are commonly prescribed for those with Alzheimer's or more generalized dementia may result in harmful interactions and side effects for those with LBD.


Some signs of LBD can include: 

•    Tremors or other difficulties in movement
•    Unpredictable levels of cognitive ability or alertness
•    Visual hallucinations
•    Changes in your sleep cycle, including more vivid dreams
•    Trouble with complex mental activities


If you've noticed more than one of these symptoms over the past few months, it may be worthwhile to make an appointment with a neurologist to check out your symptoms and see what could be the cause. 


Non-Lewy Body Dementia 

Dementia that's non-LBD in nature can be tougher to diagnose at an early stage due to the absence of lewy bodies in the brain. Non-LBD types of dementia can include vascular dementia, often caused by mini-strokes that otherwise go undetected, as well as Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia (FTD).


Vascular dementia can often manifest itself in inappropriate or uncharacteristic behaviors, like unprompted emotional outbursts or reckless spending. Often, your family members may be the first to point out these changes, as they can accrue so slowly (much like the mini-strokes that cause them) that they go unnoticed by others.


Treating the problems that led to the mini-strokes, like beginning a blood thinner regimen or stopping smoking, can be enough to help restore blood flow to the affected areas of the brain.


FTD is marked by degradation in the frontotemporal lobe of the brain, and may manifest itself in depression-like symptoms. Those suffering from FTD may no longer find joy in their normal activities, may put grooming and other personal care to the back burner, and may become much more reclusive than normal.


Like vascular dementia, FTD can be treated when caught at an early stage and before much damage has taken place. 


If any of these symptoms sound a warning bell for you, it's imperative to have a full neurological workup as quickly as possible. Although the thought of being diagnosed with dementia can be incredibly frightening, this diagnosis is the sole thing that can set you on the path to treatment.