Posted by Betsy Graziano on 3/20/2017

By the year 2030, the last members of the "Baby Boomer" generation will be turning 65 -- a milestone traditionally associated with retirement, senior citizen discounts, and living life at a slower pace. The Institute on Aging is predicting that one out of every five Americans (20%) will be 65 or older by then.

While many people continue working and staying active well into their senior years, adjustments are eventually necessary. To ease the transition into post retirement, some homeowners are making remodeling or home buying decisions based on expected lifestyle changes.

Simple Adjustments Can Go a Long Way

One of the most basic accommodations you can make to improve accessibility is to replace door knobs, especially outside ones, with straight handles. If arthritis or other conditions make it difficult for you or your spouse to grip a round door knob and turn it to the right, a horizontal lever can be much less of a hassle. Water faucets that have handles instead of round knobs can also provide similar benefits. (If you really want to go for ease of use, there's always the option of installing motion-activated sink faucets!) Elderly parents who visit frequently -- or who may even be joining your household -- will also appreciate accommodations that make daily tasks less difficult.

There are a couple sound reasons to replace old, inefficient toilets with taller units, including the fact that they are easier and more comfortable for older people to use. Some of the newer models are a few inches higher and are noticeably more convenient than standard toilets. An additional benefit worth mentioning is that EPA-certified toilets conserve water and can save you money. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recent advancements in toilet design now allow consumers to use less water and save money on their water bills -- up to $110 a year for the average family. Although a retired couple may not flush that much money down the drain (in the form of wasted water), an updated toilet can still save money on utility bills and conserve natural resources (The "WaterSense" label certifies that it meets EPA standards).

A few other features to keep in mind for more comfortable senior living may include choosing a wall oven instead of a harder-to-reach floor version, and getting other appliances that don't require bending down. Lots of natural light and a sufficient amount of artificial light are also desirable features for a senior-occupied home. For shower safety, grab bars are another modification that can provide extra support without costing a lot of money.

Whether you're planning on buying a new home or doing updates and renovations on your existing home, there are a lot of ideas to consider. Since aging and climbing stairs don't usually go together, many people set their sights on a one-story ranch house for their retirement years. If you now own a multi-story house and want to stay put, there are a variety of stair lifts, elevators, and other mobility aids that may be worth looking into.