According to recent reports, nearly one-third of people who have prescriptions for medication are not filling them, putting themselves at risk.
"Seventy-five percent of all health care spending is related to medications. We know there are huge costs and risks associated with these medications," Albany College of Pharmacy Assistant Dean Sarah Scarpace said.
More people are living longer and largely due to modern advancements in medications which are keeping chronic diseases under control. The elderly are likely to be on a number of prescribed medications. Taking them properly can be challenging.
"The average adherence rates for chronic disease medications can be 50 to 65 percent, that means the patients are only taking their medication the correct way only half the time," Scarpace said.
According to Scarpace, nearly two-thirds of hospital admissions are due to what is called medication non adherence.
"Non adherence, not following doctor's recommendations. So maybe you are supposed to take the medications every day, and you forget to take it every day. It could mean take it with food and you were supposed to take it with an empty stomach and don't absorb it the right way," Scarpace said.
If you need any assistance with your medication, whether it's remembering to take them, or keep them straight, ask your pharmacist about programs that can help.
"Once you leave the physician, talk to the pharmacist. They are doing more than handing the bottle to you," Scarpace said. "They are medication experts and they are there to help you prepare and manage side effects of your treatment, and help refer medication assistance program if you are having a hard time affording it."
Expired medication may actually be ineffective but the trouble doesn't stop there. Where you are storing the medication could also be affecting their potency.
"Don't keep your medication in the bathroom. Don't keep in the fridge unless they told you to do that. Some people think if they put it in the refrigerator, doing that it will make it last longer, don't do this unless it specifically has a label on there that says you should," Scarpace said. "Don't leave it in the car, don't leave it in the glove box, make sure you carry your medications with you."