Remote controls for TVs, personal video recorders (PVRs) and even air conditioners sometimes drive us up the wall. Their batteries stop working at the most inconvenient time possible or someone breaks or loses them.
However, if you have certain phones, there is an easy answer. Many Android smart phones and tablets contain what is known as an “IR Blaster” which means they can produce an infra red beam as does your remote control. For these phones, it just takes a simple, free app from the Play Store and your phone becomes a controller. For Apple phones and some others, an add on IR Blaster is required as these phones do not contain one.
I have tested this with a Samsung S5 smart phone, the Smart Remote app which came with it and an old (2006 , I think) LG TV and Beyonwiz PVR. The TV is a bit finicky, and would never work with the Byonwiz’s claimed universal remote though it did with an entry level Logitech universal remote. The user interface on the app is simple, and would possibly be easier to use for someone with eyesight issues than a physical remote. Sometimes it is slow to respond or takes more than one press of a button to work but generally it is pretty good and I have been able to switch to using it exclusively for the TV and lend the Logitech to a relative who needed it urgently.
For a list of phones which contain an IR Blaster see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infrared_blaster
Note however, the standard model Samsung Galaxy S5 is not on this list, but must contain one as it works for me!