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Remote for Elderly Mother with Alzheimer's
This thread has 2 replies. Displaying all posts.
Post 1 made on Tuesday February 28, 2006 at 17:53
Lurking Member
February 2006
I am looking for ideas for a remote control for my mother who is suffering with Alzheimer's disease.

I have searched and read through many forum messages and have gotten some good ideas, but haven't yet found the solution I am looking for.

My mother's A/V system is fairly straight forward and consists of a television, VCR and satellite receiver. There are no local tv channels so either she is watching a satellite channel or a video tape. The tv is set to receive on channel 4, and the VCR and satellite receiver both output on channel 4. The satellite receiver stays on all the time as programs are recorded by the vcr during the night. The vcr is capable of changing the satellite receiver's channel. All recording is preprogrammed by me, and she needs no control over the recording aspect.

There are a few problems that I need to overcome for her to use the system:

First is the need to ensure that there is no way for her to accidently change the tv or vcr from channel 4. I have locked all channels out of the channel up/down functions of the tv and vcr, but direct entry still gets her into trouble.

Second is to have remote buttons that are easy to see and push and have good tactile feedback. She is hard of hearing as well, so beeps from a touch pad probably wouldn't be heard. What I would ideally like is a remote that has plastic buttons like my old Hewlett Packard HP-25 or HP48 calculators. There is absolutly no doubt about whether a key has been pressed or not. Also rocker buttons confuse her, and there is no way she could use a joystick kind of control. She needs a seperate button for each function. Also buttons cannot have more that one function. For example the satellite guide navigation keys for up, down, left, and right cannot also operate fast forward and rewind on the vcr, etc.

Third is that she has no concept of devices. To her it is all just the tv. So trying to get her to push the tv/vcr/sat device button just doesn't happen. The activity remotes seem to have the right idea, they just seem to have too many buttons. I like the idea of cutting off buttons with a razor blade that was suggested in one of the threads that I read. I am not familiar with the capabilites that macros offer, but perhaps they may offer a solution.

I have never worked on or researched remote controls before, but am quite technical and would feel comfortable with programming a remote including the building of macros. Cost is also not a big factor.

The functions that the remote control needs to do are:
TV and vcr on/off. Both should either be on or off together.
TV volume up and down and mute.
VCR play, stop, rewind, and fast forward.
Satellite receiver channel up and down, guide, info, exit, ok, 0-9 keypad, up, down, left, right, navigation keys, and a few keys for her favorite channels would be nice.

So I ask for advice and ideas for possible solutions. Thanks in advance!

Post 2 made on Monday March 6, 2006 at 16:52
Select Member
October 2002
OK, if she really has a bad case of Alzheimer's disease, then the solution is simple . . .

Just unplug the VCR and keep the sat on the same channel. Every program will be like seeing it for the first time. The only "remote" she will need is 'The Clapper."

(Sometimes the obvious can hinder your problem solving abilities.)
I'm just a sheep in wolf's clothing...
OP | Post 3 made on Tuesday March 21, 2006 at 16:32
Lurking Member
February 2006
Problem has been solved. She has been moved into a long term care home.

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