Sunday, May 31, 2015

Seneca Hart offers valuable advice gained from caregiving for her husband Steven — don’t take small pleasures for granted, because in an instant everything can change.

For the Harts, that instant came in 2007 when Steven sustained a traumatic brain injury and injuries to his spine and back in a helicopter crash in Baghdad, Iraq.

Now, simple activities, such as eating in a restaurant, require significant planning and a lot of luck for things to go smoothly.

Luck is not part of their everyday routine. Seneca supervises Steven’s days, makes sure he takes his medications and gives him his injections.

She makes and drives him to appointments, answers his phone, takes care of all the paperwork for his conditions, pays the bills, and manages the house while caring for their children.

Sometimes she feels like she’s parenting alone and not appreciated for all she must do in addition to running a boutique small business services company.

She has a BA in Economics and an MBA in Human Resource Management and previously owned an internet retail small business.

Seneca is also a member of Hearts of Valor and coaches her middle daughter’s soccer team. Painting and figure skating, prior passions, rarely fit into her schedule now. “It doesn’t get any easier,” she says. “Maybe you get more used to it, but — one month, one year or ten years, it’s still really hard.”

A kind gesture from a total stranger several years ago stays with her. A fellow caregiver contacted her through Facebook after an event Seneca was unable to attend.

She was too concerned about leaving their infant son home alone with her husband. The caregiver just wanted to be sure Seneca was okay. It meant a lot to her to know someone cared enough to ask.

As a Dole Caregiver Fellow, Seneca wants to continue to discover ways to help other caregivers.

She agrees with many of her peers who understand that while caregivers have much in common, everyone’s situation is unique and no one should be discouraged when a medicine or treatment that worked for others doesn’t work for them. There are no easy answers, she says, and encourages fellow caregivers not to give up, but to keep trying until they find something that works.

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