LAS VEGAS – A grab bar for the bathroom shower that makes you think “pretty” before “old.” A kitchen faucet with temperature presets that says “looks elegant” before “avoids burns.”

Technology — certainly for fun and in some cases to impress — was everywhere at the recent Kitchen & Bath Industry Show here. But often behind the LED-lighted musical commodes and cool automatic faucets was an effort to make the activities of daily life easier for all ages and abilities without sacrificing aesthetics.

There’s been a “night and day difference” in the last five years in what’s being offered to enable people to “age in place” without feeling that their home has been turned into a hospital, said Mary Jo Peterson, whose Connecticut-based interiors firm specializes in accessible design.

“Manufacturers are waking up and saying, ‘I need to do something”‘ to be part of the market for universal design, a concept that refers to designing for people of every age and ability, said Peterson, who spoke at a seminar at the show.

Several companies displayed automated cupboard doors that require no handles.

Lighted floor tiles, induction stoves and oversize shower stalls also were shown.

There’s no question that the aging of the baby boom generation has fueled many such design innovations. Remodeling can make economic sense when compared with the cost of in-home care, assisted living or nursing homes.

But cupboards that open with a touch of the knee are useful not only for people with limited dexterity, strength or balance, but also for anyone with their hands full.