I tend not to write about gadgets, but the TV remote has bugged me for a while. Since the analog-digital switch, my mother-in-law struggles to use the remote control of her new digital TV. Sometimes she "gets it" by reading printed directions. Sometimes she just yanks the cord out of the wall to turn off the set. Somehow, I don't think she is the only one who used to have an older-style “dial” TV that you walked up to and switched on/off. From an email I received recently: "When we gave the new TV to my husband's mother, she said, ‘What 's with all the buttons? Up, down, off, on. I don't change the sound, and at my age I have the time to go through the channels.’"
Turning the TV on and off and changing the channel are near the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. However, for some silent population—many with dementia, difficulty learning new skills, and/or difficulty using their hands to push buttons—TV viewing may be gone, and we can't hear their puzzlement at losing an important connection to the world. Worse, once the switch was past, news media lost interest.
Fortunately, the Keep It Simple (KIS) company figured out what seems to have eluded well-meaning people and companies during the transition. They invented a dial remote, the Slicker Clicker, that addresses the problem. And it works! After a few false starts—instructions aren’t perfect—I programmed several TVs. Just place the device six inches from a “'new age'” remote, hit a few buttons on the source remote, and you’re done. Once it's programmed, turn a dial to change the channel and volume! And in a fully darkened room, the dials glow. How retro! How cool.
By Laurie Orlov
Aging in Place Technology Watch Blog
[Originally posted October 6, 2009, at Laurie's Aging in Place Technology Watch Web site.]