By Jane A. Malkoff MSN RN NP

I was reminded recently by Carla Howie, Clarity’s Director of Business Relations, “People are looking for support not services”.  Of course.  Yet, while I know this, hearing that truth stated so simply hit me hard and I have not stopped thinking about it.

From personal experience, I recognize I look for support when I really need the support versus in preparation for when I may need support in the future.  I must admit, I only reach for support when I realize I simply can’t do whatever it is for myself.  This is a natural approach for many of us which begins in toddler-hood.  I move through life attempting to do everything by my big girl self.  Services come into play for me only when I am in the midst of being overwhelmed by the amount of work at hand for me to accomplish or when a real lack of knowledge exists and I need an expert.  Why would I ever expect a potential client to behave differently?

Over the past 5 years I have been involved in a plethora of presentations, workshops, events, and panel discussions.  The service providers involved in the preparations often go above and beyond to make the events special for attendees even when there is a good chance very few people will participate.  I have come to realize this turnout is because the majority of people who need support are in the midst of being overwhelmed.  Going to a program is not on the top of their to-do list.

As a provider of supportive services, I work directly with many other service providers offering useful information including options for navigating the health care system, preparing appropriate health care documents, creating quality estate plans, and more.  We all have a deep interest in helping people prepare ahead for the bumps in life.

We all learn to crawl, walk and run without service providers.  We all get used to falling down, brushing ourselves off, and getting back up again without service providers.  Most of what we accomplish comes from the support we have around us whether it be formal or informal entities.  For instance, when we learned to walk most of us had a smiling loving parent cheering us on.  When we have had to pick ourselves back up from difficulties in life and move on we recognized a great sense of accomplishment and strength.

It is inevitable in life there will be times when we need support in varying degrees and there will seem to be no cavalry or cheering squad available.  This is the time and place for quality services to step in and assist.

I am pondering the many possibilities Clarity will have (as well as other quality businesses focusing on the well-being of older adults) when we fully recognize our fellow community members are really seeking support not services.  Most people can do much with a support system in place and then a little service in place when support systems are not in sight or working well.  Collaborating around this truth could have a huge effect on the well-being of our community.