It's National Farm Safety And Health Week, and today is focused on the rural opioid epidemic and mental health. For some farmers and ranchers, the rising cost of prescription drugs only worsens the rural healthcare challenge.

Research by AARP found the average older American takes 4.5 prescription drugs, typically on a persistent basis, and 72 percent say they are concerned about finding affordable medications. With one-third of U.S. farmers over the age of 65, AARP Oklahoma state director Sean Voskuhl says the impacts are felt more in rural America

This is an issue that affects everyone. From the cities, to rural communities, farmers and ranchers are no exception to high prescription drug prices. In fact, it's actually harder for rural residents to find affordable prescription drugs. Rural Americans face access troubles to quality healthcare, and pharmacies, that compounds the issue. 

The Rural Policy Research Institute reports Independent, rural pharmacies are struggling to survive due to declining rural populations, and high prescription costs driving consumers away or elsewhere. Voskuhl says the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs is leading more and more Americans to ignore their doctors orders when it comes to how often and how much of their medicines they should be taking

Some consumers have to consider between paying prescription costs, or other essential needs, due to the increases. Looking just at the price for the popular diabetes drug, Lantus, it increased by 62 percent from 2012 to 2017. These increases are a real burden, especially on rural areas with healthcare and pharmaceutical access challenges.

Voskuhl says AARP has resources available for rural Americans to learn more about high prescription drug prices and what they can do to manage them. Fortunately, there are options to help deal with high prescription drug costs, including potential legislative action in Washington, D.C. AARP has state-by-state resources online, at AARP.org, and catch our show Thursday night to join the conversation on what your options are.

Report By: Janet Adkison