Preventing Falls: EveryStep nurse Ethel Picado shares safety tips

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), deaths resulting from a fall have increased 30% since 2007 and if rates continue to rise at the current pace, the U.S. can anticipate seven deaths from falls every hour by 2030. In Iowa, falls are the second leading cause of injury deaths and the leading cause of injury hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

September is Falls Prevention Month. EveryStep Home Care registered nurse Ethel Picado assists individuals and families in making their homes safer.

Ethel says the most common trip and fall hazards she sees in the homes she visits are largely preventable. These hazards include clutter, carelessness, not using assistive devices correctly, dehydration, medication side effects like low blood pressure, urinary tract infections, and sleeping on a couch and rolling off.

“It’s important to let the patient know you care,” says Ethel. “You need to be frank and explain things in layman’s terms, so the patient better understands and adopts suggested changes.” Ethel says she tries to eliminate fall hazards in the homes she visits by being direct, kind and non-judgmental, allowing the individual to participate and make decisions about the suggested changes.

“Every patient is different and approaches life’s circumstances in different ways,” says Ethel. The suggestions she shares with her patients are good advice for anyone.

  • Avoid clutter around and in pathways of the home.
  • Remove or secure loose rugs.
  • Keep electrical cords out areas where you walk.
  • Be aware of pets, as they tend to cling or require attention, and often get in the way.
  • If so directed, always use a cane or walker, take breaks when tired, and avoid stairs if possible.
  • Stay hydrated and take medications as prescribed.

“Ultimately it comes down to reminders, reminders, reminders to ensure they make the most of the comfort of their preferred home places by following safe practices,” says Ethel.

A nurse with EveryStep since 2014, Ethel says she feels successful when she can see a patient is safer in their home. “When the patient has no complaints about getting around, has gotten used to a cane or walker for own safety, has realized drinking fluids, not coffee, is important, and has had no falls for months or years at a time, then I and the patient can smile.”

If you or someone you know needs care or support, complete the confidential "Find Care" form at The form sends a message to EveryStep staff who then follow up with a phone call. It's a great way to start a conversation and get answers with no cost or commitment. EveryStep can connect the individual to its own programs and services that may be helpful, as well as services offered by other organizations and providers in the community. Visit to get started or call 515-558-9946.