Content starts here


caretaker 21 yrs, now need new home in 6 mos.

Regular Contributor

caretaker 21 yrs, now need new home in 6 mos.

About 3 months ago, I told my family I couldn't continue as was and needed help taking care of our mother. The decision was made that mom would be better off at a retirement home and that her house (where I've lived and cared for her for the last 11 yrs) was to be sold as soon as possible to take advantage of the hot sellers' market here. Mom is fine with this.


I need a new place to live pronto but don't want to buy a house when people are putting their house up for sale $100k over the tax assessed value and people are bidding as much as $100k over that.


Complicating matters is that my mom has a dog which, it has been assumed I'd continue to take care of. The dog loves me and I love the dog - but I'm 70 going on 71 and have been a caretaker for the last 21 yrs (took care of my uncle, too.) When I started thinking about finally having a life of my own and what that might look like, I forgot about the dog. Apparently, no end in my lifetime to responsibility.


I had been thinking about traveling about the country on Amtrak for awhile. Not going to happen with a non-service dog.


I thought I might rent out a room until the housing market settled down some -- but how likely am I to find a place with a 40 pound dog? with a dog that likes to bark?


Then I thought about buying a 2nd hand RV. Not sure how that would work. I'm used to small cars. Definitely could not handle backing up a towed vehicle. Do most RV sites allow dogs?


The dog is accustomed to a doggy door that lets out onto a large fenced in backyard. My mom put in an electrified fence to keep the dog safe so the dog understands how that works. I think I've heard that there is such a thing as a portable electrified fence. Anyone know anything about that? I wonder if that would be a solution for letting the dog out for exercise if I got an RV.


What living arrangements haven't I thought of?


Where can I find out more about RVs (or some equivalent)? I've never rented a room in someone's house. How do I find what's available? What are the things I'd wish I'd known a year from now?


I also need to know what to do with my stuff. I'm something of a packrat, particularly paper, so I know I need to get serious with dumping stuff. I've been working on it for quite awhile & have recently picked up the pace, but I need afterburners to get this done in 6 months. But what about the rest -- furniture, pots, pans, tvs, hammers, screwdrivers, clothing, etc. Is it worthwhile getting a storage unit or should I just off load all that as well?


I don't know anything about selling online & don't think I have the time or personality -- so I'm talking about giving away what someone will take and having someone haul off what's left. My siblings will take care of disposing of my mom's stuff. (If I end up relocating to another part of the country, does that change the storage unit answer?)


Will I regret letting everything go? Or will it be liberating?


I have a hard time making decisions -- like to research everything to death. I read recently that clutter is a result of indecision - what an aha moment, lol. Well, it looks like I'm going to have to change because other people's decisions mean I'm going to have to make a lot of big time decisions in the next 6 months.


Appreciate any suggestions, on any of my questions.


Oh, I also have some recent health issues. Don't want to get melodramatic, but waiting on results from 4 skin biopsies and I have a chronic cough (6 months now) that looks like 'basilar consolidation'. Hope skin biopsy results won't turn into a big deal and new meds kick the cough. But, I suspect that, like my having a dog, some people won't be thrilled having someone move into their home who's coughing all the time -- even if COVID wasn't on everyone's mind. (Glad I'm not dealing with that!)

0 Kudos
AARP Expert

Hello there. That's a lot of things to consider! I live in eastern Oregon, which is nothing like the verdant rainy western part that most people think of when they think, Oregon. In Lakeview, the county seat for our very rural county, there are RV Parks, and also mobile home parks that are pretty nice, and everyone here seems to have at least 2 dogs. It does sound as though you need to spread your wings and see what's out here after all that caregiving. 


I have a suggestion for helping you explore your inner life and the outer world, while perhaps helping you make decisions. Have you ever looked at The Artist's Way? It is a book and a workbook that have sold a gazillion copies because it uses our natural creativity to help you explore who you are and what the next step could be. There is a daily journaling exercise called Morning Pages, that helps you focus in a free flowing way on what's on your mind that day, that minute. I am a psychotherapist, and i 'prescribe' that book when people are embarking on a bold new chapter in their lives. Great book. Cheaper than therapy, although i hope you have health insurance (Medicare and a supplement?)  Therapy isn't a bad idea either. Again to help with exploration and decision making. Northern Virginia has lots of options. 


I used to live in DC. 


I'm excited for you, frankly!  


Jane, in the middle of nowhere, Oregon

0 Kudos
Regular Contributor



I had a great aunt who lived in Portand.  I had a lovely visit with her about 10 years after Mt. St. Helen's erupted.  It was extraordinary to see the still visible destruction as well as the rebirth.  My mom had been on a visit 5 years before & I was also able to compare from her photos how things were then.


My aunt was in her mid 70's during my visit, she was still full of pep and vigor.  (I had to change that sentence after doing the math.  I had thought of her as being old at the time and just realized she was only a few years older than I am now, lol.  Eye-opening.  Still think my aunt had the advantage on energy, even then. lol)  She loved the area and drove me everywhere -- including the high desert area -- maybe on the same day she took me to see Klamath Falls? -- and so I've seen a little of the area where you live.  It certainly was a surprise to me!  It is an area to investigate further, if not as a permanent home, a place to explore.  I do believe that it has the advantage over many places east of the Mississippi such as FL in that I wouldn't have to worry about a hurricane.  (RVs / motor homes are not the best place to be in a hurricane) 😉  Thanks for reminding me of some very good memories. 


My aunt taught couples therapy at Multnomah Bible University and was a good listener who knew when and how to ask the right leading questions.  With all these coincidences, I'll take it as a sign from her through you that I should take your advice and get a copy of the Artist's Way.  Normally I don't have answers to the questions often posed in self-actualization, self-help style books and I don't think of myself as an artist - but this book may surprise me in a positive way.  I agree with you that an inner as well as outer exploration is in order.  (And yes, thankfully, I have a Medicare Advantage plan -- even though they can, at times, make it difficult to find 'in plan' medical care.  Thanks for your concern.)


Jane, thank you so much for taking the time to think about my situation and give me your considered advice and for your positive closing.  I should look at this as an exciting new adventure.

AARP Expert

Hey there, yes you have been near to where i live! Did you get to see Crater Lake back then? It's very close to Klamath Falls. Instead of hurricanes we get fires. Alas.

The Artist's Way is not just for artists, its for creativity in all things. I think you will enjoy it very much. As was once said: All arts are apprenticeship. The big art is our life.


All the best!

Jane of Paisley (not in the middle of nowhere but i can see it from here)

0 Kudos
Regular Contributor



I didn't get to see Crater Lake on that trip but I did see it on a cross country trip I made with my brother and youngest sister in the 70's.


We'd call home every night to let our parents know we were alright and where we were.  My mom would tell us what we should see in the area.  No internet back then.  It was all in her head.  I marvel at the education she got -- even though she frequently changed schools.


Crater Lake is definitely a sight not to be missed.  The spectacular color of the water,  The island.... All totally unexpected and awe-inspiring.  Worth another look!


We still have pictures of my then teenaged brother with a sign saying something like, Falling Danger, in the foreground, and him lying on his stomach in the background looking like he's clawing the ground trying to keep from slipping over the edge.  Good times. 


Alas, it seems there's no place that's hazard free.

0 Kudos

Couple of ideas:

be a caregiver for someone new.  This can sometimes include housing.  You will get paid!

check out mobile home parks, 55+.  The newer homes are quite nice and older ones can be fixed up.  It is more economical than an apartment.  You have a yard for the dog, and your car is parked right by the house.  Despite the bad rap, the majority are safe and people are friendly.  it is very reasonable housing. Consider getting a roommate to help with costs.  This can be a win-win for caring for the dog and traveling, too, and housing for someone like yourself.    

Regular Contributor

I've been a caretaker almost all my life -- starting as a pre-school child helping kids my mom took to school get themselves and all their stuff (don't forget your lunchbox!) out of her car. 


I said my uncle was the last person I'd take care of, but you can't (or at least I couldn't) say no to your own mom, especially when you took care of her brother (and for a much shorter time, his wife).  I think I can safely say I am all caregivered out.  It is past time to take care of me.  But thanks for the suggestion.  It may help someone else!  and who knows maybe after a long break, I'll rethink it.  Life long habits die hard.


I don't think there are mobile home parks in this area (VA suburbs of DC) -- but I will check to be sure.  I will definitely look into this if I decide to relocate to some place, like FL, where they are more prevalent.  


Getting a roommate does sound like a win-win suggestion for all the reasons you mentioned.  I hadn't thought of the traveling angle in that light!, thanks. With the right person, it would also be nice just for some companionship. 


And it's invaluable to have someone around who knows enough to promptly call 911 in case you have some sudden medical emergency!  (help, I've fallen and... 😉 )  If I hadn't been just downstairs when my mom had had her stroke (not to mention the efforts of the EMTs, Inova Fairfax Hospital ER staff, & the surgeon who 'fished' her clot out within 2 hrs of it forming), she wouldn't have had the 99% total recovery she had.  


Thanks, Christine, for taking the time to think about my situation and then write out your thoughts.  I appreciate it.

0 Kudos
Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Need to Know

NEW: AARP Games Tournament Tuesdays! This week, achieve a top score in Bubble Shooter and you could win $100! Learn More.

AARP Games Tournament Tuesdays

More From AARP