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Alzheimer's Disease

Description, Warning Signs, Detection, & Management


What is Alzheimer's?

Alzheimer's disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough in some cases to interfere with daily tasks. 


Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's disease is not a typical part of aging. The greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people who suffer from the disease are age 65 and older. Alzheimer's is not just a disease of aging - approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer's disease. 


Warning Signs

Just like the rest of our body, our brain changes as we age. The most common early symptom of Alzheimer's is difficulty remembering newly learned information. Other warning signs and symptoms include:


  1. Memory changes that disrupt daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

If you or a loved one demonstrates any of these signs, please consult with your primary care doctor.


The Benefit of Early Detection

Early detection allows for you or a loved one to get the maximum benefit from available treatments. In addition, detecting and diagnosing the disease early on allows for more time to plan for the future and explore support services. 

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

  • What are the tests I need to take and how long will it take to get a diagnosis?
  • Will you refer me to a specialist?
  • Could the medicines I'm taking be causing my symptoms?
  • Do I have any other conditions that could be causing my symptoms?
  • What should I expect if it is Alzheimer's?
  • What treatments are available for Alzheimer's? What are the risks, benefits, and possible side effects?
  • Should I consider participating in a clinical trial? What are the risks and benefits?

Living with Alzheimer's  - For You or a Loved One
Plan ahead to ensure that your future, or the future of a loved one will be in good hands. Planning early on also helps your loved ones make the right decisions for you in the future. When planning, consider:

  • Future living arrangements, including in-home assistance, assisted living, a memory care unit
  • Legal planning
  • Financial matters
  • Health care proxy/living will

Blue Cross Blue Shield Alzheimer's Management Program

At Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York, we offer support to members through our Alzheimer's management program. To enroll, click on the button below, or call one of our case managers at 1-877-878-8785, option 2. 

Additional Resources 


In our community

Western New York


Alzheimer's Association®, Western New York chapter

New York State resources


Office for the Aging

NY Connects



Family Caregivers Alliance®

Alzheimer's & related Dementias Education & Referral Center (ADEAR)

Caregiver Action Network


Contact Our Health Management Team

Speak with a case manager today! Call 1-877-878-8785, option 2. 

Did you know?

Members who are eligible to receive a wellness debit card can use it towards wellness centers, therapy  and spa services, and more. Learn where you can redeem your card today!