Making It Easier to Command Alexa

By:  Frank Engelman   |  Posted: June 11, 2021   |  Updated: April 18, 2023

When you buy something we recommend, we may get an affiliate commission — but it never affects your price or what we pickLearn more

The Problem to be Solved

Automating My Parent's Lights

Automating My Parent’s Lights

Having the right lighting in the right place at the right time is a very important detail for both safety and quality of life. Think burglars, or being able to read, for example.

But some older adults, as they become forgetful, or develop mobility issues, can end up with the lights turned off when they should be on, or the wrong lights for the “job at hand”. We wanted some “smart home” solutions that can help with this.

Solution Details


Remembering the specific name of lights in each room can prove difficult, even when we use them daily!

The use of Alexa Groups can allow loved ones to use the same command in every room. Also, the use of Proactive Alexa Routines can reduce the need for spoken commands.

The most common complaints I hear from seniors who are using Alexa in their smart home are:

  1. I can’t remember the specific commands to turn on the lights in each room!
  2. My Mom can’t remember ANY of the commands except “Alexa, What time is it?”

Solutions to both are below.


Can’t Remember Specific Alexa Command Details

If you have set up smart lighting in several rooms in your house, you may run into trouble when remembering what you named the lights in each room.

Was that “sofa” light or “couch” light, “bedstand” light, or “nightstand” light?

There is an easy solution for a way that you could say the SAME COMMAND, no matter which room you are in, i.e.

  • “Alexa, turn on the lights.”
  • “Alexa, turn off the lights.”

This is possible if you follow these two guidelines:

  • Create an Alexa Group for each room and add all the lights to it.
  • Add an Echo device in EACH room Group.

That way, when you give the command of “Alexa, turn on/off the lights” while in the bedroom, Alexa knows that you mean the bedroom lights as she hears you speaking to the Echo device in the Bedroom Group.

You can still say the “Group” name of another room when you are in a different room. For example, you can say, “Alexa, turn on/off the bedroom lights” when you are in the living room.

You can also create an Alexa Group that has other Groups in it. For example, a “first-floor” Group could contain other groups such as the living room, kitchen, etc. When you say “Alexa, turn on/off the first-floor lights,” the lighting in all those rooms will be turned on/off. That’s pretty neat when you are going to sleep.

You can even use this approach to turn on/off more than just lights. If you say “Alexa, turn on/off the living room,” Alexa can include the TV and other smart plug-connected devices such as fans.


Can’t Remember ANY Commands

This technique involves solving the difficulties in speaking ANY Alexa commands.

Using the methods described in the “Solution: Make Alexa Proactive: Create Routines” article, you could create Alexa Routines based on time-of-day or motions to trigger lighting, or even use a button to turn on/off the lights.

My Aunt appreciates the Alexa button on her nightstand that can turn on/off the nightstand lights without having to reach up from the bed to twist the little knob way up under the lampshade. This helps her with not having to say an Alexa command while still in a groggy state.

Alexa Routines triggered by motion described in the article “Smart Bathroom Features for Older Adults” can remove the need to ask Alexa to turn on lights when entering the bathroom.


*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.

If you use the links on this website when you buy products we write about, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate or other affiliate program participant. This does not affect the price you pay. We use the (modest) income to help fund our research.

In some cases, when we evaluate products and services, we ask the vendor to loan us the products we review (so we don’t need to buy them). Beyond the above, Tech-enhanced Life has no financial interest in any products or services discussed here, and this article is not sponsored by the vendor or any third party. See How we Fund our Work.