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At Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, innovation driven by baby boomers' quest to 'age in place'

May 7, 2011 |  6:00 am

Thousands of baby boomers are retiring every day, and much as they might not like to admit it, they're becoming the older generation, which means creaky joints, less astute vision and hearing and other age-related ailments. Last week's Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas offered a look at hundreds of possible solutions, as well as lots of luxury countertops and other products.

Toilets with night lights, sparkly grab bars for showers, kitchen drawers that open with a touch and bathtubs with sides that rise and fall for easy entry were among the ways manufacturers tried to appeal to people who want to stay in their homes as they age. Those products also work well for children, pregnant women and people in wheelchairs, among others, designers and manufacturers said.

In the photo above, Debbie Cannon and Steve Smith demonstrate an Age Explorer suit, which simulates the difficulty a 70-year-old might have picking up small objects, reaching high into cupboards, bending down or simply seeing what's in a drawer. Cannon, marketing services manager at the kitchen hardware company Blum, said her company learned of the suit through a German firm that studies aging.

Our cover story from the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show includes an in-depth article as well as a photo gallery.

-- Mary MacVean

Photo: Debbie Cannon and Steve Smith demonstrate an Age Explorer suit. Credit: Isaac Brekken / For The Times