Easy TV Remote for Those with Dementia

By:  Frank Engelman   |  Posted: January 21, 2022   |  Updated: April 18, 2023

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The Problem to be Solved

Need a Simpler TV Remote Control

Need a Simpler TV Remote Control

The Longevity Explorer groups have frequently brought up the complaint that their TV remote is too complicated. It’s a recurring theme any time one asks about technology design and examples of poorly designed gadgets.

Solution Details


This is a solution to the challenge some people have using TV remotes. I designed it for a person with dementia but others may like it too.


My mom can turn the TV on and off, but has a hard time getting to her favorite shows.


Here is a video of my dementia-friendly TV remote solution in action



Programmed Buttons Instead of Conventional TV Remote or Voice Commands

For those suffering from dementia, remembering specific Alexa commands for Fire TV control can be difficult.

If you feel that your loved one could use a physical button, take a look at the several discussed in our article on choosing a button “Button to Trigger Alexa Routine

In this article I will be showcasing the Amazon Echo Button and the BroadLink 4-button pad. This solution requires the use of a Fire TV as described in this setup  article and Alexa Routines.


Setting it Up

OK. How do I do this magic?

If your loved one just needs a single button, or maybe a couple of BIG buttons, I suggest the Echo button (see kit list) which does NOT require a hub or even an Alexa Skill. They can be paired by saying “Alexa, pair my button”.

The BroadLink button provides an easy to hold 4-button array on a pad, but requires a hub and an Alexa Skill.


Alexa Routines Provide the Magic

The “magic” is accomplished by using the “custom action” feature in Alexa Routines.

This feature allows the Alexa Routine to speak the same verbal commands that you would to the Fire TV. For example, you can add commands to play shows from streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon prime Video or YouTube.

For a background on using Alexa Routines, see this article.

The buttons can be remotely reassigned to different shows by a family member by logging into the loved one’s Alexa account and editing the contents of the Alexa Routines.

As mentioned above, the Amazon Echo Buttons do not need a hub. For the BroadLink button, you setup the BroadLink hub and button following their instructions, then you need to add the Alexa BroadLink Skill.



Specific Alexa Routines

NOTE: For each of the routines below, these is an actual ‘example routine” that you can downlooad. To find the routines go the the Kit List mentioned above or below.


Alexa Routine for Echo Button

Caption: Echo button makes Alexa video call


Alexa Routines for BroadLink buttons

Caption- BroadLink Button One- Netflix-Longmire (with resume)

  • See Sample Routine One & Sample Routine One- resume

Please Note: Netflix needs a separate “resume” command triggered by the button push


Caption- BroadLink Button 2 Prime- Downton Abby

  • See Sample Routine Two


Caption- BroadLink Button 3 Paramount+ Blue Bloods

  • See Sample Routine Three


Caption- BroadLink Button Four- YouTube video 

  • See Sample Routine Four



See the Kit List




*Disclosure: The research and opinions in this article are those of the author, and may or may not reflect the official views of Tech-enhanced Life.

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