Measuring the Cost of Gas in Lives - Not Dollars

The price of oil is skyrocketing and so is the price of gas at the pumps. The price hikes may cost in lives.

It’s all over the news — the price of oil is skyrocketing and so is the price of gas at the pumps. In some places, the cost of gas has tripled over the past 12 to 15 years.

These record-high prices are inconvenient for many and may spur on some lifestyle changes. Some people may reconsider how they drive or their vehicle of choice, the price hikes may result more in just higher prices for everything — they may cost in lives. Thousands of people who need nursing care aren’t sick enough to be hospitalized, but they do need regular visits from nurses for dressing changes, medications, vital sign assessments, palliative or hospice care, and much more. The availability of home care has given many people the chance to continue living as normally as possible and for dying people to die among family and friends in a familiar environment.

Home care isn’t always easy to get though, as the nursing shortage in both the United States and Canada has left many openings for home health care nurses unfilled. And now, filling those positions might become even tougher. With the rising cost of gas — many home health care agencies and their nurses may find that they can’t afford to continue providing their current level of care – or any level of care – forcing the nurses back to traditional facility-based nursing jobs.

While the cost of transport may not be as big an issue in the urban areas, it’s a huge issue in the rural areas, where a commute to a patient’s home may be almost an hour away over country roads. At the cost of gas now, how can this be afforded on a regular basis? And who will pay for it?

Looking even further into the issue, we could even take this one step further. Patients who must travel long distances to the closest doctor or specialist may limit their visits or stretch their intervals between. This would result in patients being sicker when they finally are seen. Elderly or infirm patients who are hospitalized may not get the visits and stimulation from their loved ones as they might once have. Volunteers to visit the sick, provide Meals on Wheels, and check in on those who are alone, may find that they can no longer afford to carry on these vital tasks.

Yes, the price of gas is troubling — but its effects go beyond our immediate pocket book. It could, sadly, affect the lives of millions at the worst time in their life.