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More Minnesota Towns Working to Become "Age-Friendly"

Maple Grove is the latest Minnesota town researching ways to make "age-friendly" improvements in areas including transportation. (iStockphoto)
Maple Grove is the latest Minnesota town researching ways to make "age-friendly" improvements in areas including transportation. (iStockphoto)
August 3, 2016

MAPLE GROVE, Minn. — As the number of people age 50 and older living in Minnesota continues to rise, some towns are trying to stay ahead of potential issues - and make sure aging residents feel welcome.

The City of Maple Grove was recently designated an Age-Friendly Community by AARP - the third city in the state to earn the distinction. The aim is to help towns become more inclusive and supportive for older residents.

Kris Orluck, Maple Grove's Senior Coordinator, said they're hosting a public meeting Wed., Aug. 3, as one of the early steps in a five-year process to transform the city.

"There are obviously many things that we can be looking at to help make our city more age-friendly,” Orluck said. "And until we hear that from the individuals that are actually living and affected by it daily, we may not even know it."

Like similar moves in Minneapolis and Alexandria over the past year, Maple Grove officials ask residents to weigh-in on everything from housing and health to transportation. Once the public comments are collected, the city will create a long-term plan. Changes could include sidewalk repairs, greater accessibility in buildings, and more affordable senior housing.

According to Erin Parrish, associate state director of advocacy and outreach for AARP Minnesota, many baby boomers are moving back to urban areas, where they tend to have more options for public transit and other amenities.

"There's this interesting parallel that millennials and boomers have very similar preferences in terms of livability,” Parrish said. "Cities really need to start looking at some of these shifts, and there's a value in ensuring that older adults are part of that community."

St. Paul, Northfield, Woodbury and Eagan are working on similar initiatives. In all, more than 100 cities across the country have been designated age-friendly communities.

For more information on age-friendly communities, visit aarp.org.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN