Fall Detection - Could a medical alert have saved Leonard Cohen's Life?

Mason Altschuler
Nov 21, 2016


On November 7, legendary Canadian songwriter and artist Leonard Cohen died after falling in his house in the middle of the night. Although it is not clear if or how this fall contributed to the singer’s unfortunate death, the incident highlights the risk of falling in seniors.

Every year, one in four seniors experiences a fall. And if they self-diagnose themselves as unharmed, more than 50% will not even report it to their doctor. This is unfortunate and dangerous because a fall can cause medical problems that might not be immediately apparent. A sudden loss of balance can be a sign of a previously undiagnosed medical problem. What’s more, certain medications can be interacting with each other in such a way as to increase the likelihood of falling.

Head injuries as a result of falling can cause neurological problems, or internal bleeding. Falls also frequently cause soft tissue damage or broken bones.

Above: Boundary breaking music icon Leonard Cohen performs his hit song "Suzanne" live on stage. (source: Rolling Stone)


Your doctor needs to be aware
if you have fallen.


If you are a senior reading this, we urge you to report any fall you may have regardless of how trivial you think it was. If you are family or caregiver, particularly of someone who lives alone, it’s crucial to discuss this information with your loved one's medical professional. 

What Causes Senior Falls?

There are numerous conditions alone and in conjunction with each other that can lead to senior falls.  Neurological conditions combined with lack of exercise or sedentary lifestyle can cause balance problems. Low blood pressure can cause people to faint. In seniors low blood pressure can be attributable to diabetes or certain medications.

Most obviously, bad depth perception, glaucoma, cataracts, and just poor vision in general are very common among seniors and can result in falls. 

Preventing Falls – Steps to Take

Obviously, making sure your home is well lit and uncluttered, and making sure carpets and rugs are secure and flat on the ground is a first step to minimizing the chances of falls. But if you are looking for the best protection available, new technologies provide peace of mind even considering a potential worst-case scenario.

Fall detection technology, which has historically had it's issues with over reporting falls that weren't really falls, are markedly improved from early iterations. Current hardware used by the best medical alert companies offer fall detection features that are increasingly useful for seniors as an additional security measure.

Fall detection enabled medical alert systems are programmed to detect abnormal and sudden changes of movement or direction. Some are able to discern between a fall and normal movements by measuring acceleration and using gyroscopes.

You’re probably asking, “what happens if I simply drop it on the floor, or it falls off a counter?”

Many fall detection devices are able to monitor movements so if it still has not been moved after 30 seconds of the incident, emergency services will be alerted.

If you’re looking for a product that can allow you or your loved one to maintain an independent lifestyle and provide peace of mind, our advertising partner Medical Guardian offers plans that feature the most accurate fall detection technology in the marketplace today.