How To Choose The Best Universal Remote Control For Elderly

Modern TVs come with increasingly complicated remote controls that are carry dozens of tiny buttons controlling numerous functions.

This can make it challenging and frustrating for seniors trying to watch their favourite TV shows. They find the tiny buttons hard to see and press and all the different functions can be confusing.

Watching TV can be especially problematic for seniors with arthritis, limited mobility and dementia.

If your elderly parent or grandparent still uses the remote control that came with their TV, consider getting them a universal remote control designed specifically for the elderly.

If you are planning to buy them a new TV, get a universal remote control while you are at it.

It will make TV time so much easier.

Universal remote controls come with a few large buttons that you can program to work with the TV, home theatre, music system or set top box.

In addition to making it easier to control the TV, most universal remote controls also allow you to combine multiple remote controls into the main universal remote.

Instead of having separate remotes for the TV, audio system and set top box, you can configure the most commonly used functions of each (e.g. volume, favourites, mute etc.) onto the universal remote control.

We compared several universal remote controls available online and picked the five that we think are ideal for most seniors in the UK.

See the reviews below to find the best one for your needs.

But first, a few tips to keep in mind when buying a universal remote control.

What to Consider When Choosing a Universal Remote Control for Elderly

a) Ergonomic Design

The first thing to check is the shape and design of the remote control. It should be contoured in such a way that it is easy to grip even by someone with arthritic fingers.

A tapered design is easier to grip and reduces the risk of dropping the remote control.

b) Few Large Buttons (Backlit, if Possible)

The remote control should have only a few large buttons with clear labels that are easy to see. This is important for seniors with visual and mobility problems.

They don’t have to struggle to locate a specific button.

If you can find a remote control with backlit buttons, that’s even better. It makes it easier to see especially at night or in  a dark room.

c) Simple Programming

In keeping with the simple button layout, the programming should be simple as well.

Most universal remote controls for seniors incorporate only the most popular functions including volume up and down, mute, two buttons for changing channels and a favourites button.

The last one – favourites – makes it easy to access their favourite channels instead of having to surf through dozens of channels to find the one they want.

d) Easy to Set Up

You’ll need to set up the universal remote control before it’s ready for use. It should be easy and take no more than 15 minutes.

There are two ways to configure a universal remote control.

The first one is by using codes. You either use a code chart that’s included in the manual or use a ‘code search’ feature to pair the universal remote control to your TV.

Both of these methods are tedious and take time to complete.

The easiest method, and the one most universal remote controls use, is copying codes from the old remote control to the new one. It’s called ‘learning’.

It’s easy and fast.

First, you activate the learning feature on the universal remote by pressing a pair of buttons simultaneously (check manual for the specific buttons).

An LED light will light up or blink to confirm the learning feature is active.

Then press the button on the universal remote you want to copy a code onto (e.g. Volume UP). To copy the code, press the button you want to copy on the old remote control (e.g. Volume UP).

Only copy the most commonly used functions.

The two remote controls should point at each other when you are using this feature.

Note: To make things easier for your parent or grandparent, configure the remote control for them.

e) Settings Memory

Check if the remote control retains memory of previous settings if the battery is removed.

This ensures you don’t need to keep going through the configuration proves every time you put in new batteries or the batteries fall out by accident.

Reviews of the Best Universal Remote Controls for Seniors

1. Feintech SDF00400 FeinControl Universal Remote Control

This is our favourite pick for several reasons. The tapered design makes it easy to hold for seniors with arthritis, it is super easy to set up and the backlit keyboard makes it very easy to locate the right buttons.

To set it up, you activate the learning feature on the universal remote control. It takes less than 10 minutes to copy all the functions you need from the old remote.

You can even copy functions from multiple remote controls.

If the TV is connected to a home theatre system, you can copy the channel select buttons from the TV remote and the volume up/down buttons from the home theatre remote.

You can easily change these configurations at any time.

Similar to most universal remote controls, the FeinControl remote control is compatible with infrared remote controls only.

It won’t work with radio, Bluetooth or WiFi remote controls.

What we like about it:

  • Ergonomic design – easy to hold.
  • Illuminated buttons improve visibility.
  • Easy to configure.
  • You can copy functions from multiple remote controls.

2. Flipper Big Button Remote for 2 Devices

With the Flipper remote control, you can control two devices such as the TV and the cable box.

Set up is not as straightforward as in other remote controls but it’s not too bad. The remote uses ‘code search’ to pair with your TV and set top box.

Alternatively, you can manually input the codes in the manual using the number keypad on the remote.

When you are done, the slider hides the numbers from view so that the settings are not accidentally changed.

With the keypad hidden, the only accessible buttons are on/off, mute, channel left/right and volume up/down.

The buttons are large and clearly labelled though they are not backlit. But that shouldn’t be a problem in a well-lit room.

You can program 25-30 favourite channels to make it easier for your parent or grandparent to find the channel they want.

What we like about it:

  • Senior-friendly design. The sides are tapered to make it easier to grip.
  • Large and easy-to-press buttons.
  • Lock feature prevents accidental reprogramming.
  • You can set favourite channels.

3. SEKI Grande Universal Remote

The SEKI Grande universal remote uses the ‘learning’ method to pair with your TV or cable box. It takes about 10 minutes to copy all the functions you need from your old remote control.

If you are having trouble configuring your SEKI Grande, this instruction video will help.

The buttons are large with clear labelling. Though the keys are not backlit, most seniors will have no trouble locating different keys.

Unlike most universal remote controls, the SEKI Grande has a number pad. This allows the user to search a channel by inputting the channel number.

This is especially handy if there are too many channels to surf through. If they know the channel number, they can go to it directly.

Another unique feature of the SEKI Grande is that you can program two codes per button.

This allows you to use the remote control for two different devices.

When you are configuring the remote control, use the Level A and Level B buttons to program the two codes for each device such as the TV and the set top box.

Then when using the remote control, press the ‘A’ or ‘B’ button to activate the controls you want.

For instance, on ‘A’ the volume buttons can control the TV volume while on ‘B’ they can control the home theatre volume.

What we like about it:

  • Ergonomic tapered design.
  • Easy to set up.
  • You can configure two codes for each button, making it easy to control two devices with the same remote.
  • Large and easy-to-press buttons.

4. Doro HandleEasy 321rc Universal Infrared Remote Control

If your loved one has arthritis or finds it difficult to grip things, this is the best universal remote control.

It is specifically designed for seniors with limited dexterity. It’s light, slim and contoured to fit effortlessly in a light grip.

The remote control has only 7 buttons, which prevents confusion when trying to find a certain function. Even the on and off buttons are separate to make things even easier.

The other buttons are for changing channels and volume control.

All buttons are big and sufficiently separated from other buttons to make them easy to press.

The Doro HandleEasy universal remote control uses a learning feature to get codes from your old remote control.

If your remote sends a double signal, which can prevent the universal remote from working properly, the Doro HandleEasy has a workaround for that.

Simply press the button on the old remote control twice when using the learning feature.

Check the manual for complete set up instructions.

What we like about it:

  • Compatible with any infrared device including TVs, DVD players, home theatres, set top boxes and amplifiers.
  • Solves the problem of remote controls that send double signals.
  • Easy to use for seniors with arthritis or dementia.
  • Easy to set up.

5. One For All Big Button TV Zapper

The One For All universal TV remote replaces up to three remote controls for your TV, set top box and audio system.

It has a learning feature that you use to copy codes from the old remote control to the new one. You can copy functions from multiple remote controls onto different buttons.

For example, there are two power buttons.

You can configure one to switch the TV on/off and the other to control the audio system or DVD.

There are also two sets of volume buttons you can configure to control audio from two devices.

There are four channel select buttons. You can configure two of them to control the TV and the other two to control the DVD player.

Feel free to configure the buttons as you like. For instance, you can use the extra volume buttons for fast forwarding and rewinding.

Just make sure you label the new functions using a marker or something else that’s easy to see.

The remote feels solid and comfortable in your hand. Seniors with deteriorating dexterity should still find it easy to grip.

The buttons are large and sufficiently far apart.

The attached wrists trap keeps the remote within easy reach. It’s especially handy for seniors with dementia who might forget where they placed the remote.

What we like about it:

  • Easy to hold and use for seniors.
  • Easy to configure.
  • Can control up to three devices.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which devices can I control with a universal remote control?

Most universal remote controls can control the TV, set top box, soundbar, and home theatre system. Basically, any electronic that uses an infrared remote control.

Whatever type and brand of TV, soundbar or home theater you have, as long as it has an IR remote control, can work with a universal remote control.

2. Can I copy any remote to a universal remote control?

Virtually all universal remote controls are compatible only with infrared remotes. You cannot copy a radio frequency remote control to a universal remote.

Luckily, almost all electronics today come with IR remote controls.

3. Can I copy all functions of the TV remote onto a universal remote control?

Unfortunately, you cannot. Universal remote controls have few buttons to make sure they are easy for seniors to use.

In contrast, most TV remote controls have numerous tiny buttons. And since you can only copy one function onto each button of the universal remote control, you cannot transfer all functions. Copy only the basics like volume up/down, program +/-, mute and favourites.

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