Meet the Contemplative Caregivers

Laura Darlak, B.A.

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Originally from Western New York, I first moved to Ithaca, NY to attend Ithaca College, where I received a degree in Aging Studies and Journalism. My experience working with older adults and family caregivers ranges from providing direct care to delivering psychosocial research interventions and analyzing findings.

After completing my studies at Ithaca College, I worked in applied gerontological research for the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging in Cleveland, OH.  As a Research Assistant, I collected data through telephone interviews with older adults with dementia and their family caregivers who were participating in a research study. I was fascinated with the conversations I shared with individuals involved with the study. Beyond the structured interview questions and answers, I was witnessing the experiences of those I spoke with, through the sharing of stories and struggles, and this felt like the more meaningful process. It was unsettling to discover that the unique human experiences shared with me would soon be reduced to quantitative research data, stripped of depth and authenticity. I left the research field disillusioned and in search for a meaningful way to connect and serve older adults and family caregivers.

Contemplative Caregiving is my approach to validating the experiences of older adults, individuals with dementia, and family caregivers through care grounded in compassion, generosity, and being. I engage in mindfulness through a regular meditation practice guided by the teachings of Guru Paramahansa Yogananda. By weaving my spiritual search with eldercare, I offer a service that celebrates wisdom, interdependence, reflection, and experience.