Tag Archives: COVID-19

Skylark Associates and Members Vaccinated

Vaccine Clinic in Conjunction with the Cobb-Douglas Board of Health and Metro Atlanta Ambulance Service!

We are excited to announce at the end of March 2021, all Skylark Associates have been vaccinated as have 95% of our Members. We have hosted multiple vaccine clinics, and our families have been jumping through lots of hoops to find, schedule, and obtain vaccinations for their loved one. Many great thanks to our Associates who have made this happen. It’s required a lot of extra hours working with families and coordinating with health health. Many thanks especially to Forsyth and Cobb/Douglas Health Departments.

The news has also been exciting to see. In Georgia, all over 16 are eligible for vaccinations. Pfizer has announced that their vaccine is 100% effective against COVID-19 for those between the ages of 12-16. The absolute number of vaccines in Georgia continues to increase dramatically. Hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19 remain dramatically lower than in 2020.

What’s Next?

We’re learning more about what we can do. We’ll continue to monitor CDC guidance. The high vaccination rate in our centers gives us opportunities to change up our programming and appropriately adjust some of our mitigation strategies. We’ll be monitoring how guidance from the CDC and the State of Georgia changes with increased vaccination rates. We’re getting excited about getting back to normal operations.

Welcome Back Skylark Members:

More and more members who have been on-hold since the beginning of the pandemic have received the full round of vaccinations. We’ve enjoyed welcoming them back to the Center since we haven’t seen them in close to a year.

If your loved one has completed their vaccination, give us a call so to resume services.

Covid-19 Vaccination Resources

We know that everyone will not be able to join us for the vaccination clinic. There are now lots of options for receiving the vaccine.
Skylark recommends that you seek out the vaccine in other venues such as large pharmacies, mass vaccination sites, and county boards of health. Here are the best resources that we’ve found:

  1. Check out the Georgia Department of Community Health web site with listings of participating pharmacies and a scheduling tool for county Boards of Health.
  2. Pre-register at the MyVaccine Georgia web site. You can receive email updates even if not currently eligible.
  3. Contact your Area Agency on Aging for assistance.

It’s worth driving to a mass vaccination clinic even if you have to drive a bit. It’s a massive effort, but you don’t even have to leave your car.

Let us know if you’re still having trouble finding a site or having significant trouble getting your loved one to a site.

The COVID Vaccine Has Come to Skylark!

We’re excited by the good news of the Coronavirus vaccines.  

On Wednesday January 27 with the help of the Cobb-Douglas and Forsyth County Health Department, 26 Skylark Members, Associates, and Caregivers received either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. It was quite the sight to see everyone receive their vaccines. Our first associates began receiving the vaccine in mid-December.  

The other piece of good news is that the vaccines are being administered relatively quickly.  The news media has reported frustration at the speed at which the vaccine has been rolled out.  The rate has been increasing.  According to the Bloomberg Covid Vaccine Tracker as of January 27, there have been approximately 26.5 million cumulative doses administered at a daily rate of 1.2 million.  According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, there have been approximately 800,000 cumulative doses administered in Georgia.

Georgia continues administering to those in the 1A+ group which includes health care workers, first responders, those over 65 and their caregivers.  We’ll continue to work with our local health departments and emergency management agencies to schedule vaccinations at our centers. 

In the meantime, we urge everyone who is currently eligible to get the vaccine.  The side effects really are minimal for the vast majority of individuals.  The vaccine has been administered to millions and millions, and the CDC and the pharmaceutical companies are doing a good job tracking the vaccinations. 

While the administration of the vaccine has been slower than we would like, vaccination rates are increasing.  You can see the progress Georgia is making at COVID Vaccine | Georgia Department of Public Health.   It can be hard to get an appointment, but keep working on it.  It’s going to be vitally important to our seniors. 

Georgia is working on improving the vaccination rates.  The vaccination operations are significantly better now than they were in December.  With additional resources, more time, increased vaccine production capacity, and hopefully additional vaccine options, we’re hopeful that the daily rate of vaccination will increase dramatically even from where we are.

If you have the opportunity to get the vaccine, get it as soon as possible.  Based on feedback from some families who have gotten their first vaccine already, scheduling opens up early Saturday morning for the following week (this tip is likely to change as the vaccination process is quickly improving).  

You should be able to find additional vaccine information as well as scheduling tools on the local public health web sites.  For those working or residing in:

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Kroger Health sites and the Ingles, Publix, and U Save It pharmacies are also able to provide vaccinations.

In most of these cases, appointments are available as the vaccine becomes available.  Pfizer and Moderna continue to ship vaccine, so you may need to keep checking the sites for appointment availability.

Since the Departments of Public Health have been willing to work with us with the vaccination process, we are hopeful that we’ll be able to get all our Members and Associates fully vaccinated by the end of March.

  • I’m working with Fran on enrolling in the Center and Home Care.  Can my loved one receive the vaccine through Skylark? 
  • I’ve been on hold since the pandemic closed the center in March 2020.  Can my loved one receive the vaccine through Skylark?

In conjunction with the department of public health, we were able to vaccinate active Members, those on hold, their caregivers, and our employees at our COVID vaccination drive.  This took place at our Cobb center.  We would like to do another drive there, but will need more affiliated participants. Hopefully, we can do something similar at our Johns Creek location under similar requirements.  Please keep in touch with Fran (fweigard@skylarkseniorcare.com), Carolanne (cwright@skylarkseniorcare.com), or Joseph (jbendor@skylarkseniorcare.com) for additional information.   All active, prospective, and on hold members over the age of 65 and their caregivers are absolutely eligible for the vaccine through the regular channels.  

Definitely let us know if you’re interested (and perhaps ready to start or restart back at the center).  We’ll keep working and advocating for the vaccinations with the correct departments.  Generally, the departments are looking for opportunities to provide vaccinations, and they don’t provide much notice when the opportunity arises.

What does this mean for our family?

Now that all older adults over the age of 65 and their caregivers are authorized to receive the vaccine, it’s likely that Members who desire to return to the center and still qualify will be able to do so in the next few months. 

We’ll help identify vaccination opportunities to make this happen.  We’ll also start reaching out to begin reassessments and understanding family plans.

What should you expect from Skylark? 

We continue to be your premier Home Care and Adult Day provider and your safety and health are our top priority.  Since reopening in September, we’ve started many new members and welcomed back existing members to the centers.  The Seniors are very happy to return, and we’re seeing great results.  In some cases, we’ve seen the physical and cognitive decline of the pandemic reversed with increased social engagement, exercise, and nursing care.  Our Johns Creek center is now fully open, and the Cobb center is open additional days.

We expect great changes coming quickly in the coming months.   We’ll work hard to continue earning your confidence in us.

We’re going to add one more step to our safety and infection control protocols:

  1. Vaccinations: work with Members and Associates to get everyone vaccinated quickly.
  2. Keep the coronavirus out: For home care and adult day center, we work to avoid the virus by checking temperatures, utilizing screening questions, using appropriate PPE, and limiting visitors.
  3. Masks and Social Distancing: Whether in the home or in the center, we’ll continue using masks and implementing social distancing. Our members and associates have been doing a great job keeping the masks.
  4. Synexis Bio-Defense System: This system helps to automate our cleaning program and attacks surfaces and air. We think this will form a key part of our infection control program even after the coronavirus pandemic.

We’re looking forward to seeing you back in the center.  2021 is going to be a great year.

Juggling Caregiving Risks: Seniors Needs Versus COVID-19

In our household, we often ask: is it safe to do this?

For my family, we’re careful as I work with seniors. In our family, it’s a team effort.  We wear masks, we keep distant from others, and we avoid crowds.  We wash our hands. 

Right now, we’re debating joining a basketball league for our kids, but it’s hard to imagine how the league can maintain social distancing in a gym with kids and parents present.  If the league were outdoors, it would be an easier decision.  

Yet, staying locked up doesn’t work for us either.   Our boys hit the wall with complete social isolation many months ago.  It’s all about weighing the risks of coronavirus and meeting the social, health, and spiritual needs of our family. 

Juggle the Risks

We’re all struggling with the balance.  It’s especially true if you’re caring for a senior loved one.  For family caregivers, we still have responsibilities.  We are returning to the office.  We’re struggling with the isolation from friends. 

For our loved one, we work hard to avoid exposure to the virus.  It’s important.  Yet, despite remaining free from a coronavirus infection, our loved one is feeling the pressures of isolation.  At Skylark we’ve witnessed the decline resulting from the isolation in our seniors, and we hear the stories of steady decline in physical and cognitive health throughout the pandemic. 

Take a moment to Google “health risks of delayed care due to covid”  The CDC has a really long article on this concerning the issue of delayed care. 

As we maintain communication with other health care professionals we hear stories about sicker individuals in hospitals, cancer diagnoses missed, and decreased cognitive abilities in those individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

What about Adult Day? 

We hear the question regularly: can we start or return to adult day?  It doesn’t take much to know that the increased activity and cognitive stimulation will be a great experience.  Yet, what we read online is worrisome. 

Perhaps, you’ve received advice to wait a bit before returning.  It’s easy to recommend isolation as it protects against the virus.  The isolation and decreased engagement are also problematic.

We understand.  Let me share with you how we are mitigating the risks so that our Adult Day Members stay healthy.

Improved Infection Control:

First, we are improving our infection control procedures. We recently installed the Synexis BioDefense System.  We invite you to check out their website.  Synexis utilizes ambient humidity and oxygen naturally present in the environment to produce dry hydrogen peroxide gas.  The gas fights viruses, bacteria, mold, fungi, yeasts, odors, and insects.  Because it is a gas, it fights viruses in the air and on surfaces.  Infection control has always been a priority at Skylark, but this will make it easier to fight possible infections in the Centers.

Synexis has a couple of advantages over its competitors that we were impressed with.  First, this is an automated program.  It is not reliant on staff completing their jobs perfectly every single time.  With this solution, we will fight possible infectious agents continuously and everywhere in the center.   As a gas, we feel there is an increased opportunity to attack viral agents while airborne before the virus can spread.

Universal Masks Usage:

Did you hear the NPR story about flying and masks?  NPR asks if it is safe to fly.  The evidence says yes: if everyone is using a mask.  The evidence is compelling from whatever the source: if everyone is masked, the risk of spread is significantly minimized.  

We continue to social distance throughout the day.  We have tons of room so it is not difficult.  We screen everyone as they come into the center.  But, I’m convinced the most important is universal mask use. 


The best evidence we have for cognitive health includes social engagement, exercising, learning new things, and having new experiences. Our BrainBloom programming is designed to do this. 

Our days are filled with greeting new and old friends, exercise, and learning about new things.  At the end of the day, our seniors go home safe, but with a smile and uplifted spirits.

Balance the Risks

Our seniors have experiences that are not easily replicated outside of the center.  This is not an easy decision.  We regularly engage with families who are returning and who are new to Skylark.  We’ve enjoyed seeing old friends, and we’re excited to meet new friends.  

We’ve gotten pretty good at helping families balance the risks amidst the current situation.

Social Distancing with COVID-19: Caring and Thriving in a Time of Uncertainty

Ice Cream Sundays at Skylark!

Are you going crazy yet?   Are you sick of Zoom? Or do you question if you ever have to go back to the office again now that you’ve figured out how to do everything remotely.  Has your home gotten really small?  Desperate for a handshake or a hug from close friends and family?  The coronavirus has upended everything.

If you’re like me, the answer is “all of the above.”  We check in with parents often.  When we visit, they hang out on the front porch with my wife, kids, and me on the driveway.  We’ve become elementary school teachers.  My wife is teaching high school kids all day on Zoom.  I’m running a business. But, there are also daily bike rides for “PE” and lots of cuddling on the couch with movies.  Chaos and family time.  We’ve had wailing and laughing.  We also decided to get a dog.  It started as “let’s get a small, house broken girl dog.”  At the pound, we found a two-month-old boy black lab / pit bull mix.  It’s crazy.  It’s our life now.

What’s your life like?  Is there chaos?  Is there wonderful family time?  A yearning for more contact?  Some frustration with the challenges that accompany a dementia diagnosis?  Or needing some more ideas for the day than just Netflix. If you’re caring for a loved one, it’s bound to be “all of the above.”   If so, you’re not alone. Mary Caldwell, Helpline and Early Stage Program Manager for the Georgia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org/georgia), reports being busier than ever developing virtual programming and training to staff and volunteers in response to the needs of families caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. 

In this time of the coronavirus, we want to present some positive ideas during this time:

  1. Relationships: This is the core of the matter. There will be a lot of together time.  Or a lot of worrying about a loved one from a far.  Either way, the requirements needed for caregiving can be stressful. If experiencing social distancing up close, figure out ways to keep the relationship from getting too stressful.  Perhaps connect with other friends and family using Facetime, Zoom, or even an old fashion phone call.
  2. Structure: Mary Caldwell recommends having a plan for each day, creating a schedule, and maintaining existing routines. It will be easy to sleep late and watch a lot of TV and hang out on the couch all day.  Develop the structure that will help everyone stay active and engaged.  Try to maintain sleep during the night and not letting the night become day.
  3. Activities: Try out some good activities.  Ask your loved one what they enjoy.  Try something new.  Work them into the schedule, but with flexibility.  If something doesn’t work, no big deal.  Try something else.  Find time for some exercise with a good walk or some dancing.  Try cognitive challenge games.  Bring art into the home.  You might not be a great artist, but there are resources for you like adult coloring books or craft projects.  
  4. Take care of yourself: Find time for renewal.  It’s hard when everyone is in the same house.  But try to find some quiet time or space for a movie or a special treat.  Build it into the schedule.  When you’re ready to have someone come into the home, give us a call about home care.  This is an affordable way to create time for yourself. 

We have at least another month until life starts to get back to normal.  There will be time for laughter and tears. 

Let’s stay in touch.  We’re going to send out some more ideas each week for you to try in the home.  We’ll try to reach you by phone, and we’ll look at ways to develop some virtual programming. 

Here are some great resources to try:

Alzheimer’s Association (https://www.alz.org/help-support):  Full of information about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.  They have excellent caregiver support services and resources along with ideas for daily care. 

TimeSlips (www.timeslips.org): This site has some ideas for engagement with your loved one using the arts, music, and storytelling.  They are sending out their newsletter weekly with some great engaging ideas while we are socially distancing because of Covid-19.

Here are some ideas from Kathleen Mannelley, our program coordinator at our Buckhead center.