The Bear Clan Patrol is looking to widen its reach for helping the city’s vulnerable, by receiving dementia education.

The idea was sparked by an experience last March, when Bear Clan Volunteer Cara Lizotte came across a lost woman at the end of her patrol shift.

“She was cold, she didn’t know where she was,” said Lizotte.

Lizotte and three other volunteers took it upon themselves to get the woman home.

With some prodding, they figured out the woman’s address and got her inside, where Lizotte said they found a number of notes.

“Like telltale signs of dementia: put laundry here, do dishes here, and there were phone numbers all over the place.”

Worried the woman might wander off again, they found contact information for her family: Lizotte said she now lives with them in British Columbia and has a better support system.

Lizotte held on to the experience and shared it a few months later when she ended up working at the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba.

It’s now prompted Bear Clan volunteers to receive dementia education; Bear Clan leader James Favel stressed the organization is often the first point of contact for people who might be lost or disoriented on the street.

“We’re seeing it more and more often, and we should be able to recognize it,” said Favel.

The sentiment is reiterated by Alzheimer Society of Manitoba’s education manager Jennifer Licardo, who told CTV News awareness is key.

“They’re the ones that are on the streets,” said Licardo.

“They’re the ones that could be seeing these individuals day in and day out.”

Licardo will teach Bear Clan Members how to recognize signs of dementia, how to approach people who might be living with dementia, as well as what to say or things to avoid when individuals might be disoriented.

“You don’t want to startle the person or create anxiety because you’re a stranger to them,” said Licardo.

Through its dementia-friendly community initiative, the Alzheimer Society is hoping to grow the city’s support network, and encourages organizations to reach out to them.