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Some Alzheimer's Organizations Use Movie 'Coco' To Engage Latinos

Nearly a year after the movie "Coco" was released, some aging and dementia organizations are still talking about the film, because it hit on a topic that some Latino families don’t want to talk about: dementia. 

It was in the scene at the end of film, when Miguel is able to help his great-grandmother Coco remember her own father. While the film never used the word dementia to describe Mama Coco’s condition, it was obvious. And it was obvious to Jason Resendez, the executive director of Latinos Against Alzheimer’s.

"And so we’re leveraging the movie 'Coco' to engage Latino families and others in a conversation that’ll bust stigma and start to normalize the conversation around dementia and Latino families," he said.

Resendez says his organization has targeted communities in places like Kansas City to use the film to start conversations and talk about research opportunities, because Latinos are one and a half times more likely than non-Latino whites to get Alzheimer’s.

But this work takes time. Berta Carvajal is with ASU’s college of Nursing and the founder of the Promotores HOPE Network. She says "Coco" didn’t have the same effect here.

"What we see is that they don’t want to talk about dementias or Alzheimer’s. It’s scary," she said.

And Carvajal says many Latino families don’t seek help until they’re in crisis. Another issue, says Carvajal, is the lack of bilingual services in the Valley.

KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.