How do I get her to understand? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 08-06-2009, 07:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My husband's grandmother came to live with us this spring. When she first moved in we were preparing to move to the house we just bought and I was not being too "green" at the time. Now I am trying to get back into my old habits.

The grandmother has a really hard time understanding simple directions and remembering them. The problem is she does not know she has these troubles with her mind, if you know what I mean? I assume that is probably a normal thing with the elderly.

Anyway I have tried to get her to understand recycling but I don't think she does. Ok I know she doesn't. The latest fun happened last night. I rinsed out a bunch of stuff (some removed from the trash) and placed it in a large clear bag from a restaurant. It was VERY obvious what it was. This morning I come out and find coffee grounds, a banana peel, diabetic test strips (which is a whole other issue-medical waste), and wadded up paper. I had to wash everything including the bag.

How would you get her to understand with out making her feel bad? I am almost thinking of making little signs to remind her what goes where.

It is only going to get worse when I start composting again. THat will totally blow her mind!

Do you think little signs would be too degrading? I really don't want to make her feel bad. She is having a hard enough time adjusting to living with us. I think she lives in a state of culture shock most of the time.

Any suggestions are appreciated.

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#2 of 7 Old 08-06-2009, 08:03 PM
 
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Wow, that's tough. Honestly, I'd probably just give her access to one garbage can, and put the recycles where she's not likely to just dump trash into them. And I'd just check the can from time to time and pull out obvious recycles, and let the rest of it go. Yes, I'm completely into composting (I'm so fanatical that I have a freezer full of scraps that I haven't had the chance to compost yet, which I've been trying to cut down by bringing to the farm to feed the pigs) and recycling and all, but if she's not all there then I think this is a losing battle trying to make a fight of it. She obviously doesn't get it, so just pick up a bit after her and let it be. JMHO.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#3 of 7 Old 08-06-2009, 09:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the input laohaire. I try so hard to be patient and just re-do things but sometimes it gets old.

You don't happen to have a blog do you? I saw a blog a couple weeks ago where the writer confessed to having a freezer full of compostables.

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#4 of 7 Old 08-06-2009, 09:36 PM
 
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Hahaha, I guess that means I'm not the only one! No, I have been seriously thinking about starting a blog on local food/scratch cooking but I haven't done it yet.

I'm sure it's frustrating. I think it can be really frustrating when you add adults into the household in addition to the husband and wife. Everyone has their own way of doing things, and people have different values. Of course that's even true with the husband and wife but I think in a successful marriage you either agree on those values or at least work it out. Harder to do with your grandmother, and of course she's having to adjust to living in your space and under your rules.

I mean, I should talk - if my mother lived with me I'd have to check myself into the looney bin. Last time I visited my parents, I noted with agony that my father took out the kitchen trash 7 times during our 6 day stay. 7 bags of trash!!!! They also recycle nothing, not even the really easy stuff. And, they use more containers than we do (like they... ARGH.... drink water from the single-serve plastic bottles!! I mean, how hard is that to recycle at least if you have to do that???).

So if my suggestion to try to let it go seemed unsympathetic... oh, that is not so. I'm not sure if I could follow my own advice, actually, but truly, I would try to keep in mind that everyone's just doing the best they can, your grandmother is up there in years, and locking horns on stuff is just going to make it agony. It doesn't sound like she's making this into a power play or something (like, "HA! you want me to recycle?? I'll sabatoge your recycling, pah!") in which case I'd feel differently, but it seems like she just doesn't get it.

Do you do most of the cooking or does she do some or much of it? I would think the cook would have most of the control over the compostables and recyclables (though not all, of course).

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#5 of 7 Old 08-07-2009, 04:46 PM
 
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I would just be sure to take care of everything as soon as possible. Like NOT leaving the recyling on the counter and putting it out right away. My Dad lived with us for about 6 mos recently, and it took me about 2 of those to train him in proper composting, recycling, & trash dispersal. He's only 54. I can't imagine doing it with someone older. : Don't even get me started on trying to explain why things like the microwave, coffee maker, dishwasher, & toaster DON'T need to be plugged in all the time.

I'm sure she's just trying to help and is probably embarressed by her loss of facilities and having to live with you. I would just tough it out, do what you can to save what you can. If it comes to notes, it comes to notes. Blame it on your DH if you have to save her feelings. Like, "Oh, DH keeps throwing the yogurt tubs in the trash when he knows darn well they go into the recycle bin! So, I put up this sign to remind HIM." It gives her an out without being very embarrassing.

Good luck! You are a good woman to have her into her home. I'm sure she appreciates it and is really just trying to help!
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#6 of 7 Old 08-10-2009, 04:41 PM
 
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Do you also have small children in the house? Could you clearly label all the bins "white paper only" "plastic bottles only" etc, claiming you're doing it for the kids? Make sure the labels are big and easy for her to read!

I think that, if you're going to have a large plastic bag full of recyclables, I'd tie it closed rather than leaving it out on the counter or kitchen floor. Recyclables should be taken outside right away, left in a clearly labeled bin, or tied up so that nothing else can easily be added to the bag.

Once you've started composting, I wouldn't worry about the compostables that she throws out. I just don't think it's worth it. Pulling HER recycling out of the trash may not be worth it either- but certainly it's a problem if she's tossing trash into the rest of the recycling!

Unless Grandma has a blood-borne illness, I wouldn't worry about the drops of blood in the diabetic test strips or even call it "medical waste"- I'd just leave it with the rest of the (non recyclable or compostable) trash.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19 (in Israel for another school year), Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 12(homeschooled)
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#7 of 7 Old 08-11-2009, 08:35 PM
 
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I don't think signs are a bad idea at all. I find it helpful when I am visiting a house that has signs for that sort of thing. Labels are recommended by all professional organizers, I think.

Third generation WOHM. I work by choice.
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