updated 6/7/2007 11:09:35 AM ET 2007-06-07T15:09:35

The nation’s accidental death rate has been gradually creeping higher and is up 12 percent compared to the lowest rate on record, in 1992, according to a report by the National Safety Council. Falls among the elderly are among the leading causes.

Here are some tips from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association to help prevent injuries from falls.

Keep muscles and bones strong, by following an exercise regimen:

  • Strength training with weight bearing and resistive exercise works for all age groups.
  • Practice exercises designed to help improve balance.
  • Exercise at least three days a week to improve strength, flexibility and balance.
  • Choose low-impact exercises, such as yoga, tai chi and Pilates to avoid stress on joints.
  • Stretch daily to improve flexibility and mobility.

Make your home safer with simple improvements:

  • Good lighting, without extension cords, to eliminate dark areas.
  • Slip-resistant walking surfaces.
  • Grab-bars and a night light in the bathroom.
  • Handrails on both sides of stairs extending one foot beyond last step.
  • Remove throw rugs from doorways and hallways.

If you have fallen before, follow these recommendations:

  • Consider a full physical evaluation and balance screen, including vision and hearing tests.
  • Wear shoes with good support, such as lace-up oxford shoes with leather soles and rubber heels.

Source: Associated Press

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