Maple Grove Aims to Become Age Friendly Started With a Single Voice
Sep 17, 2017 05:23PM ● Published by Doug Erlien
Goytree Hakim was interested in a Living Community initiative that included framework from both Livable Community (World Health Organization), and Age Friendly (Metropolitan Area Agency’s work with dementia). Hakim met with then City Administrator Al Madsen as well as Maple Grove Parks and Recreation Senior Coordinator Kris Orluck and Age Friendly Maple Grove was moving forward.
“I was representing Maple Grove on a senior committee with Northwest Hennepin Human Services Council when we had a speaker who presented Age Friendly initiatives across the country and the world,” Hakim said. “For selfish reasons, being a senior myself, I could see some benefits for seniors.”
Hakim recruited a small group including parish nurses, area health-care representatives, and city staff. In 2015, the City of Maple Grove received a grant from the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging (MAAA).
“We met, did some polling of residents to try and get a base assessment of the city (without much response),” Orluck recalled. “We tried to find our way, but struggled to get a strong base going.”
“It has taken us some time,” Hakim added. “Initially, when we were trying to start the work, all of us had full time jobs.”
In 2016, with the encouragement of MAAA, the group hired a consultant to help with organization. During the June 20, 2016 City Council Meeting, the Council unanimously gave approval to move forward to support the process of Age-Friendly designation by AARP. Lydia Morken was hired and with her assistance and the approval of the city council, Maple Grove joined AARP and the World Health Organization to become an Age Friendly City. The move made Maple Grove the third city in Minnesota to join the network.
The first phase of the Age Friendly framework is to assess the city. In 2016 and early 2017, AARP conducted a phone interview with more than 450 Maple Grove residents over the age of 50. There were focus groups at senior housing, churches and at the Maple Grove Community Center. The assessment asked people to evaluate the eight domains of livability in the city of Maple Grove.
The group has presented the findings of that assessment to the city council, city staff and the Citizens Advisory Committee. They will now be presenting to the public in September at the Community Center.
“The next step is to take those assessment findings and comments from the presentations and put them into a plan that will be formalized by early 2018,” Orluck said. “The plan will include both short and long-term strategies and actions and involve nonprofit, businesses, and other partners in addition to the City.”
The meetings are Sept. 27 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Maple Grove Community Center.