It's sad but true. We're not getting any younger. As the years go by, we discover gray hairs, wrinkles, and liver spots. And that's just the beginning. (Still, as the French crooner Maurice Chevalier once quipped, "Old age isn't so bad when you consider the alternative.")

When we begin experiencing or anticipating limited mobility (or our aging parents do), we often assume that it's time to move to a new home, one more suited to older people. That's not always the best move, though.

I've heard of people who love living in their assisted living facility or retirement community, and also of people who quickly regretted moving into one. They may find the food unpalatable, find their neighbors not what they expected, or despair, having signed long-term contracts. It's estimated that about 90% of the elderly live in single-family homes or multi-unit apartments, and that's where they want to stay.

Know that you have an alternative to moving: You can make some changes in your home to accommodate older people's needs.

For example, you don't have to move to a ranch house if you can install an elevator or chair lift in your multi-story home. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, "In the past three years, Otis Elevator Co., one of the biggest elevator-makers in the U.S., has seen sales for individual homes or condos jump about 12% to 15% a year, compared with 3% to 5% a year for office and apartment buildings." (Otis is part of the conglomerate United Technologies (NYSE:UTX).) The recent availability of small pneumatic elevators has helped to push that growth. The new models work via suction and cost $20,000 to $30,000, vs. $15,000 to $100,000 for a more old-fashioned elevator (not including installation). In 2004, The National Association of Home Builders surveyed owners of homes valued at more than $1 million, and found that 25% classified elevators as "desirable" or "essential," up from just 8% in 2001.

You can get a toilet seat extender to increase the height of your toilet and make it more comfortable -- think chair height. Or, for a little more money, you can buy one of many new extra-tall ("comfort height") toilets, such as the American Standard (NYSE:ASD) Townsend Champion or the snazzy Kohler Purist Hatbox.

A brief trip to Motley Fool Inside Value pick Home Depot (NYSE:HD) or Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) will yield numerous safety devices, including grab bars that can be installed in bathrooms and non-skid mats to put under rugs. Address lighting, too. Brightening a home's lighting can make it much easier for people to see and read. If stairways don't have handrails, add them.

Of course, not all homes can accommodate all the changes needed. If someone is in a wheelchair, you probably can't just widen the hallways. Sometimes it does make sense to look for a new home. If you're in the market to buy (or sell) a home, let us help you. Spend a little time in our Home Center, which also features some special mortgage rates. Learn more about buying, selling and maintaining a home in these articles:

You'd also be smart to take our Rule Your Retirement newsletter for a (free!) test drive. It can help you pave the way to a comfy and secure retirement.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Home Depot.