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Alzheimer’s Tennessee Doors Are Open for Its Home & Garden Tour

Now in its 35th year serving families and individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, Alzheimer’s Tennessee is in the midst of one of its largest fundraisers—literally. As in, 14 acres large.

“This is our first year doing a home tour. Hope Davis and Elizabeth Grant got together on it, and Elizabeth, as a designer and volunteer, was able to pull it together. They had the experience and the property to make things possible,” says Kay Watson, special projects manager with Alzheimer’s Tennessee. “It’s 14 acres with a pond and party barn, right in the heart of West Knoxville.”

To work on this project with Alzheimer’s Tennessee was an obvious choice for Hope Davis and her husband, Scott. In May, Hope lost her father, who’d battled Alzheimer’s for years. Since they were already volunteers and supporters of the organization, it was a worthwhile effort to take it a step further. They offered up their home and succumbed to months of construction, which is no easy task as anyone who’s built or remodeled a home can confirm.

“I’d been involved with the Symphony Showhouse a number of years ago, so Elizabeth and I started talking about the showhouse concept and we wanted to do it for an organization I believed in strongly,” Hope says. “Almost everyone can say they know someone affected by Alzheimer’s. It’s widespread. We really need the money to go toward research and treatment.”

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and begins in the brain by destroying memory and cognitive skills. In the earliest stages, simple tasks become difficult and the ability to recall wanes. As the disease progresses, poor mental function affects the physical body, and living independently is no longer an option.

While everyone deals with forgetfulness, Kay says the key is to look for patterns.

“You hear people talk about not remembering where they parked their car, and some people just have busy brains and can’t remember. But with Alzheimer’s, you look for patterns, whether something is happening over and over again,” she says. “Plus, you forget what things are for. It’s not that you look at your remote and you don’t know how to work it. It’s that you don’t remember what it’s for. It’s losing the ability to recall even with reminders and then you have disorientation with time and place.”

Alzheimer’s Tennessee holds conferences, support groups and educational opportunities for caregivers or community groups. Often people don’t understand what is happening to their loved one, and frustrations quickly amplify. The staff at Alzheimer’s Tennessee strives to support those affected, advocate on their behalf and contribute to ongoing research toward prevention and a cure.

Creating a home and garden tour provided a positive and creative avenue for raising money and connecting the community.

“We want people to know about us and support the Alzheimer’s community,” Kay says. “By coming to the house, they’re helping families living in East Tennessee who are living with Alzheimer’s. It’s an isolating disease, and we want people to know they’re not alone. We hate to hear that they didn’t know we were here.”

The home and garden tour features a full remodel of every room in the house and every feature on the property. Sponsored by Grayson Automotive, Mercedes-Benz of Knoxville, Roddy Vending Company, Exact Tile Inc., UT Federal Credit Union and the Interior Design Society of Tennessee, the remodel involved more than 30 participating businesses.

The tour kicked off on Sept. 25 and will run through Oct. 14. Tickets for unlimited entry are $25 at the door.