Dear Savvy Senior,
Can you recommend some simplified universal television remotes for seniors? My 88-year-old dad, who lives in a retirement community, has some dementia and gets confused with all the buttons on his remote. As a result, he keeps accidentally reprograming his TV set.
— Searching Son
Most modern TV remotes – that come with dozens of unnecessary buttons – can be confusing for anyone to operate but can be especially challenging for elderly seniors. Fortunately, there are several universal TV remotes available that are specifically designed for older adults with vision, memory, or confusion issues, as well as those who are technologically challenged. These remotes have bigger buttons and pared-down options that make them much easier to see and use. Here are three top choices to consider.
The two most popular simplified TV remotes on the market today are the “Flipper” and the “EasyMote.” Both of these are infrared (IR) only remotes intended for those who use traditional cable/satellite boxes or their TV’s internal tuner. They are not designed for people who use streaming media devices and will not work with devices that are controlled via Bluetooth or radio frequency (RF).
If you’re not sure how your dad’s TV is controlled, point his remote at the ground in the opposite direction from the device, and then press a button. If the remote still executes the command, then it’s using Bluetooth or RF signals.
The Flipper, which is a top-rated remote, works with all major TVs including cable, satellite and digital TV receiver boxes. Available for $40 at FlipperRemote.com, this lightweight remote has a tapered design that makes it easy to hold, and for simplicity it has only six large color-coded tactile buttons that are exposed to control the power, mute, volume up/down, and channel up/down.
Flipper also offers an optional “favorite channel” feature that will let you program up to 30 of your dad’s favorite channels and eliminate the useless channels he never watches. And it has a built-in keypad hidden behind a slide-down panel. This will give your dad the ability to directly punch in a desired channel, while keeping the remote simple and uncluttered. The Flipper remote can also be locked to prevent accidental reprogramming.
The other popular senior-friendly remote that’s worth a look is the EasyMote (see EasyMote.us), which is available on Amazon.com for $18. This lightweight remote, which controls most TV and cable boxes, also comes with six large easy-to-see buttons (on/off, mute, channel up and down, and volume up and down buttons) that light up when pressed, which is a nice feature if your dad watches TV in the dark. It also comes with a handy wrist strap to prevent misplacing the remote but can be removed anytime.
If the Flipper or EasyMote is too basic for your dad’s entertainment system, another simplified remote that offers the ability to control multiple devices is the “GE Big Button 2-Device Universal Remote” – also available at Amazon.com for $9.
This IR remote has an ergonomic design with large buttons that will let him control up to two audio/video components such as TV, cable/satellite receiver, Blu-ray/DVD player, Roku box, Apple TV and other streaming media players and sound bars.
In addition to power, volume, channel, mute buttons and number pad, this remote also offers a previous channel, sleep timer and input buttons for convenience.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.