Maple Grove

Age-Friendly Maple Grove - Livability For All

In 2016 Maple Grove became the first Suburban community in Minnesota to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, an affiliate of the World Health Organization’s Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Program. With the region’s older adult population expected to more than double between 2010 and 2030, Maple Grove has been a leader in its efforts to make the City a better place to grow older as an age-friendly community where people thrive at every stage of life.

Age-friendly communities commit to a WHO/AARP four-phase five-year process, which includes assessing the community’s baseline age-friendliness, developing an associated age-friendly action plan, and implementing, monitoring, and evaluating the action plan.

<div class='lb-heading'>Age-Friendly Maple Grove</div><div class='lb-text'>More Minnesotans will turn 65 in this decade as compared to the past four decades combined. In 2016 Maple Grove became the first suburban community in MN to join the World Health Organization (WHO)/AARP Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities. As part of Maple Grove’s Age-Friendly assessment, older residents indicated that they like living in the city –noting the City’s natural areas as assets, including 80+ miles of trails/150 miles of sidewalks for biking and walking, parks, and natural areas.</div><div class='lb-link'><a href='' target='_blank'>Link: World Health Organization (WHO)/AARP Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities</a></div> <div class='lb-heading'>Age-Friendly Communities – Designation Process</div><div class='lb-text'>Members of the global network of age-friendly cities follow a 5-year, 4-stage process to work towards becoming age-friendly.  Maple Grove has already completed Steps 1 and 2, which included doing an age-friendly assessment , which was used to create the 2018-2021 Age-Friendly Maple Grove Action Plan.  The Age-Friendly Maple Grove Action Plan was approved by the City Council in the July 2018 – and implementation of the Action Plan is beginning.</div> <div class='lb-heading'>WHO 8 Domains of Livability</div><div class='lb-text'>The WHO has an 8 Domains of Livability framework. Each domain is interrelated and the quality and availability of these community features play key roles in well-being as we grow older and at any age. 

The 8 Domains of Livability framework is used to organize and prioritize the work that occurs within age-friendly communities.  </div> <div class='lb-heading'>Maple Grove’s Age-Friendly Action Plan Organized Around Domains</div><div class='lb-text'>Maple Grove’s Age-Friendly Action Plan is organized around the WHO Domains.  The Action Plan provides background on each domain,  summarizes what was heard during the community assessment, and is followed by a specific goals for each category. </div><div class='lb-link'><a href='' target='_blank'>Link: Maple Grove’s Age-Friendly Action Plan </a></div> <div class='lb-heading'>Action Plan Goals</div><div class='lb-text'>Maple Grove’s Age-Friendly Action Plan Goals include four main areas: 1) key activities needed to achieve the goal, 2) potential partners to be involved or work together, 3) indicators to measure progress or achieved goal, and 4) and anticipated completion date.

Many of the key activities include low-cost changes that also may be relevant to many different community types that are considering ways to become a better place to grow old.</div><div class='lb-link'><a href='' target='_blank'>Link: Maple Grove’s Age-Friendly Action Plan</a></div> <div class='lb-heading'>Outdoor Space and Buildings – Central Park and Town Green </div><div class='lb-text'>Outdoor Space and Buildings is one of the 8 WHO Domains of Livability.  Central Park and Town Green area some of the most popular green spaces in the City.  

Some potential adaptations for park areas in the City are being considered, including additional benches, dementia-friendly park features, and additional space for contemplative opportunities.</div> <div class='lb-heading'>Maple Grove Senior Center</div><div class='lb-text'>Currently nearly a quarter of residents in Maple Grove are 55 or older. For over 20 years, the City has had services for seniors. The Senior Center has had thousands of participants in 55Foward programs and classes including education, fitness, arts, health/wellness, social and recreational opportunities and special events. Pickleball  and bridge are both wildly popular and many times each may have nearly 100 people participating on the scheduled day. </div><div class='lb-link'><a href='' target='_blank'>Link: Senior Center</a></div> <div class='lb-heading'>Community and Health Services </div><div class='lb-text'>Community and Health Services and proximity and quality of the available health care services is also one of the 8 WHO Domains of Livability. Maple Grove Hospital and Fairview Health Services are supporters of the AF-MG initiative and collaborative committee members. 
Maple Grove Hospital’s recently did a Community Health Needs Assessment that reinforced the findings of the AF-MG assessment and showed healthy aging and senior services as top priorities for the hospital.</div><div class='lb-link'><a href='' target='_blank'>Link: Health Needs Assessment</a></div> <div class='lb-heading'>Pilot Tablet Program for Seniors</div><div class='lb-text'>In the planning phase of AF-MG Assessment, Committee Co-Chairs met with City Departments and asked them to apply an age-friendly lens to their work to identify ways the City can support older residents.
The IT Dep. suggested a pilot senior tablet program to keep seniors connected. This pilot has been rolled out to residents of two affordable senior apartment buildings – with training and low-cost plan and tablet – and will be evaluated for expansion, including to those more homebound.  </div> <div class='lb-heading'>Community Resources</div><div class='lb-text'>The City has many ways to communicate with seniors, including through its Newsletter, which discusses the AF-MG process and ways residents can share their time and talents in the AF-MG initiative. 
</div><div class='lb-link'><a href='' target='_blank'>Link: Newsletter</a></div>
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Maple Grove recently reached a significant milestone in this process, with completion of their 3-Year Age-Friendly Action Plan. The City is on the path to receive the age-friendly designation with its work and application of the age-friendly framework available to share with communities near and far.

What may help other communities?

Community-Driven / City-Sponsored Partnership

The Age-Friendly Maple Grove (AF-MG) initiative is a community-driven, City-sponsored partnership, which is co-chaired by City staff and Maple Grove resident of thirty years. It is a collaborative effort that includes a committee of about 20 community volunteers and representatives from health care, senior housing, senior service, non-profit organizations, and churches whose goal is to make the Maple Grove a better place to grow older and enjoy at all stages of life.

Extensive Age-Friendly Resources for Communities

The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Cities has 700 members worldwide and more than 290 communities in the nation. Both organizations provide extensive resources that offer guidelines, toolkits, checklists, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. These resources include the Global Age-Friendly Cities Guide, WHO Age-Friendly Cities Checklist, 8 Domains of Livability Resources, AARP Age-Friendly Toolkit, and AARP Age-Friendly Resource Guide.

WHO/AARP Framework – 8 Domains of Livability

The WHO/AARP has an eight domains of livability framework to organize and prioritize work that occurs within age-friendly communities. These eight domains often are interconnected and influence the quality of life and well-being of residents within a community. The domains include: 1) outdoor spaces and buildings, 2) transportation, 3) housing, 4) social participation, 5) civic participation and employment, 6) respect and social inclusion, 7) communication and information, and 8) community and health services.

Assessing Age-Friendly Needs by Involving Many

As a community in the Age-Friendly Network, one of the first steps was to assess the community’s baseline age-friendliness. Using the WHO/AARP framework, the AF-MG Committee did an assessment of the needs and wishes of older adults in Maple Grove. The assessment included input from more than 600 people through: 1) informal small group input at community events, like the Farmers Market, 2) meetings with senior service providers, as well as police, fire, and paramedics to learn about trends and opportunities for support, 3) focus groups at senior housing communities and churches, 4) an AARP phone survey of 473 residents about the age-friendliness of the city, and 5) meetings with all City Departments about integrating an age-friendly lens among functions of the City.

Analyzing Baseline Findings

The AF-MG Assessment and finding provided the base for developing the AF-MG Action Plan. The findings showed that older residents like living in Maple Grove, especially for its safety, natural areas, parks/trails, health care services, and friendly people. The assessment included in-depth information for all 8 domains. Some areas identified for further age-friendly consideration included more outdoor and indoor seating areas, additional curb cuts, indoor walking spaces, longer crossing times, making intersections safer for pedestrians, additional ADA parking spots, weight of building doors, affordable handyman services, and programs for home modifications. The areas of greatest challenge were transportation and housing options, including more affordable and single-level housing.

Age-Friendly Action Plan

In July 2018, the City adopted the 2018-2021 Age-Friendly Maple Grove Action Plan. The AF-MG Action Plan addresses policy, program/services, and built environment and includes short-term and long-term goals and actions that involve the City, nonprofits, businesses, community members, and other partners. The Action Plan includes a summary of goals for each domain with: 1) key activities needed to achieve the goals, 2) who must be involved and potential partners, 3) indicators that measure progress, and 4) the anticipated completion date for the goals. Linked here is an example of the format for a goal that included integrating age-friendly discussion into the City’s 2040 comprehensive Plan.


With the AF-MG Action Plan completed, implementation of the plan is beginning and includes the roles and responsibilities for the Year-1 Action Plan Implementation. For each area, the Year-1 action items, tasks needed, and who will lead and/or support have been identified. A budget will also be created for the Year-1 action items, although many of the action items are low or no-cost ways to better integrate planning for all ages into the community. The AF-MG Committee meets monthly and will work on the action items as well as invite new participants. Open Houses will share learnings – and encourage volunteers to contribute their talents in making the community a better place for all ages. The AF-MG Committee will provide a yearly summary of the AF-MG Action plan status to the Maple Grove City Council and a final report and evaluation at the end of the three-year Action Plan timeframe.

Maple Grove has prioritized making the City a better place to grow older as an age-friendly community. As Maple Grove’s Mayor, Mark Steffenson, indicated in the AF-MG Action Plan “When Maple Grove joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, we committed to making our city a place where residents could thrive at every stage of life—including older age.”

Awards and Recognitions

Contact the City of Maple Grove

Kris Orluck – Community Member, Age-Friendly Co-Chair, (763) 494-6514; [email protected]
Mark Carpenter – Community Member, Age-Friendly Co-Chair, (612) 889-6557; [email protected]