December 30

Ten Highlights of 2020

By Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions

With the ringing in of 2021 fast approaching, I wanted to share some highlights from the past year.


Given the impact that COVID-19 has had in 2020, I cannot help but begin with a special “Thank You” to the staff of each of the nearly 60 senior living, assisted living, and memory care communities that Gardant manages.

In light of the pandemic, our #1 priority has been and will continue to be the safety of residents and staff. The way staff members have stepped up with their commitment and dedication to this priority is to be admired.

I also want to commend staff members for their creativity during these trying times to help keep residents engaged and for assisting residents in using social media and a CareMerge application to connect with family.

The creative approach taken by the Dietary team at Heritage Woods of Rockford on April Fool’s Day seemed to capture the most attention. The team treated residents to “cupcakes” for lunch.  The team shaped meatloaf into cupcakes, topped them with mashed potatoes as the frosting, and added a dollop of ketchup for the cherry on top. 


In January, a representative of Vitas Healthcare conducted an informational program on fall prevention for older adults at the Heritage Woods affordable assisted living community that Gardant manages in Manteno, Illinois.

One of the points that Jeanette Studer, R.N., made was that the fear of falling can increase the risk of falling. Fortunately, there are a variety of steps older adults can take to decrease the likelihood they will take a tumble. They include staying hydrated, getting the proper nutrition, not waiting if you feel the urge to go to the bathroom, and engaging in activities designed to increase your range of motion, strength, and balance. Click here to read the full Blog post. 


Older adults have a lifetime of experiences and memories. This spring, we asked residents of communities we manage to share some of those memories and experiences with us. The responses from communities in Illinois, Indiana and the Mid-Atlantic States illustrate how much life has changed over the years.

For instance, after school let out helping around the house and homework came first. Play happened only if and when chores and homework were finished. Play was outdoors unless weather did not permit.

Jump rope, hopscotch, hide and seek, jacks and all kinds of ball games were the most frequently mentioned games residents played while growing up. Monopoly was the most frequently mentioned board game.

Given the impact of stay-at-home, shelter-in-place and quarantine directives because of the coronavirus, we also asked residents to share their words of wisdom based on their accumulated experiences. Here are just a few:

            No matter how bad things are, this too shall pass.

            Be happy. Be kind to one another. A lot more love and a lot less hate.

            Laugh, don’t cry; crying doesn’t do any good.

            Remember, you can never drink too much coffee.

A resident of Heritage Woods of South Elgin put a little different spin on what to do if life gives you a bunch of lemons: Make Lemonade (and add Smirnoff).


Also in the spring, residents of Heritage Woods of Charleston and Gull Creek in Berlin, Maryland, offered advice to high school seniors. Here are a few of their words of wisdom:

            Surround yourself with people who make you laugh.

Work as hard as you can and be as kind as you can be; both will help you as you get older.

Value every day because they go fast.

Hang in there. It will be over soon. Stick with your dreams.


In June, a gift arrived unexpectedly in the mail. The gift was a book entitled “Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World.” It was authored by Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., who served as the 19th Surgeon General of the United States.

Vivek stresses the importance of love, compassion, a culture of kindness, and taking the time to actually listen. He contends that what really matters in life are strong relationships and that our greatest moments of joy usually involve other people rather than money or status.

Click here to read the full Blog post. 


In September, I had the opportunity to participate in a webcast hosted by the American Society on Aging. The focus of the webcast was on a recent report entitled “The Four Pillars of the New Retirement.” The report reflects the findings of a major Edward Jones and AgeWave research project.

The four pillars were identified as Health, Family, Purpose and Finances. The study looked at the four pillars as well as the impact of COVID.

The findings indicated that people are viewing retirement a lot differently today. Rather than a time to quit working, wind down and relax, retirement is being seen as a time to pursue new opportunities, challenges, and interests.

The findings also indicated that older adults appear to be coping better with the impact of the coronavirus than younger generations.

An upside of aging, Ken Dychtwald, Co-Founder and CEO of AgeWave opined, might be greater resilience and mental fortitude.

Click here to read the full Blog post. 


In October, more than two dozen Gardant-managed assisted living and memory care communities received National Bronze Quality Awards from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living.

The national quality awards program is designed to recognize long-term care providers that have demonstrated a commitment to improving the quality of care for older adults and individuals with disabilities.

Click here to read the full article. 


I love a story posted in The New York Times on Oct. 30. The story highlights the formation of an intergenerational bridge team of teenagers and older adults. It happened because a 16-year-old took it upon himself to call an 82-year-old man who is considered one of the best bridge players in the world.

Click here to read the full article. 


In 2020, Gardant began serving residents in three new affordable assisted living communities in Indiana

In August, Gardant opened Evergreen Village of Fort Wayne and Hellenic Senior Living of Mishawaka. In October, Heritage Woods of Newburgh opened for occupancy.

Also in October, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for Sweet Galilee at Wigwam. The affordable assisted living community is under construction in Anderson, Indiana and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2021.

Vivera Senior Living of Columbus, Indiana, is scheduled to open for occupancy in January of 2021, with Gardant managing the affordable assisted living community.


A testimonial by Jan Kinman, a resident of Grand Prairie of Macomb, won 1st Place in the Affordable Assisted Living Coalition’s 2020 Testimonial Contest.

Kinman wrote “when I first made my move to Grand Prairie, I was recovering from an illness. All the staff was and continue to be friendly and very encouraging. They encouraged me to take part in activities and it helped so much in my recovery. The Resident Services Coordinator asks what we want to do and is very good about coming up with fun and rewarding ideas. The whole staff at Grand Prairie has been great during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have been extremely helpful to get us through this difficult time.”


From all of us at Gardant, we wish you a “Happy New Year!”

Leave a Reply

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

5 + nineteen =