SAN ANTONIO — Lisa Sosa spent her entire life as an actress, but after taking a Mexican-American studies class at UTSA, she realized there were tons of stories that needed to be told.
She made the leap to directing and recently showed one of her short films, “Pieces of You.”
Sosa’s film tackles dementia among Latinos, specifically the caregivers’ perspective.
“You just wait, and it’s going to get worse, and the person deteriorates, so what I wanted to show was the caretaker’s point of view and how difficult it is,” Sosa said,.
The main character in Sosa’s film, Lisette, is sitting by her mother’s side at the doctor’s office with an x-ray of a brain. The doctor breaks the news to Lisette’s mom Alma that there’s no cure for her disease and recommended occupational therapy.
“You’ve just given me a death sentence, what can help me now?” Alma, the character in the film, said.
Data shows Latinos are 50% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than non-Latino whites, and it’s projected by 2030 that 1.1 million Latinos will be diagnosed with this disease.
When Latinos have this disease, their family members typically become their caregivers. That was another nuance that Sosa captured in this film.
“Be gentle with those people, but also as a caretaker, take care of yourself too,” Sosa says.
Melissa Flores is a licensed professional counselor who works with dementia patients and caregivers. She talked about how it’s a collective effort from the patient and their family.
“It can be difficult for the person who is diagnosed to really start having that extra level of care put on them,” Flores says. “But it’s also difficult for the family to navigate, 'How do we care for someone and make sure they are safe while also respecting?”
Sosa understands this because her mother also has dementia.
The scene with Lisette and Alma was actual dialogue Sosa and her mother had with the doctor. Just like Alma, Sosa is battling that sense of guilt about living her life, especially now that she got accepted into Columbia College Chicago, a film school in Chicago.
“It’s just been really really hard and for me to want to purse my life in general and she is really my champion,” Sosa says. “She’s like, 'You have to, you have to live your life.'”
Flores says that Sosa’s vulnerability can be extremely helpful.
“People who come and just share their experience is really important and really meaningful to a lot of the families, who are struggling,” Flores said. “[Families] who can say, 'Wow, that’s my experience too.'”
She says it’ll allow other caregivers to know that they are not alone.
“I will go to graduate school, but that doesn’t mean that I’m a selfish person or that you are selfish for pursuing what you want in life,” Sosa says. “The thing is, when this person is gone, you are going to have your life and you are going to have to live it, so what do you do?”