Maple Grove Seniors Stay Active

For years, Maple Grove has been home to a vibrant community of seniors making the most of their retired time. With baby boomers retiring at a rapid pace, activities designed with seniors in mind have taken center stage.

“I think the city places value on serving all of their residents, and that includes people of all ages,” says Kris Orluck, senior coordinator with Maple Grove Parks and Recreation. Orluck plans a large portion of senior activities through requests. Through those sugguestions, the department has organized activities, including quilting, woodworking and Nordic walking that take place in the senior center, located within the Maple Grove Community Center. Classes involving trends like essential oils are indicative of the department’s evolving offerings. “I’m always open for trying new things and seeing what kind of response we get,” Orluck says.

Jan Cariveau became involved with the senior community when she started a craft show for the Maple Grove Lions. “We got the seniors and the Lions to work as a team,” Cariveau says. For the last 20 years, the annual craft show has been able to give its proceeds back to the community, and in doing so, the seniors.

“We have a lot of respect for each other,” Cariveau says of the Maple Grove community. “I’ve been to a lot of community centers in the surrounding area, and I think the respect for the people in the community is a big factor.”

Cariveau has been living in Maple Grove since 1978 with her husband, who teaches computer classes for free at the community center. Cariveau says the classes, including one covering, are popular among seniors. “There’s so much to offer. We have classes at the community center where you can pick up ski poles and walk the entire length,” says Cariveau. “I think we’ve outgrown the community center.”

Shelley Nerdahl is another senior engaging with the community. She’s lived in Maple Grove for close to 33 years and resides within walking distance of the community center. Between her home, the library and the community center, there’s always something going on. On Mondays, Nerdahl is part of a knitting group that makes hats for newborns at the local hospital. To date, they’ve made close to 35,000 hats, she estimates.

Nerdahl stays up-to-date with current events through discussion groups at the community center, where speakers come in and discuss a wide breadth of topics. “What makes it so interesting is the people who attend are all retirees,” Nerdahl says. “Some were teachers, some were in the military and some are from foreign countries or have family from foreign countries. You never know how discussions will go, and everyone is coming from a different place.” In addition to attending events at the community center, Nerdahl also takes trips created for seniors, including a tour of the Cathedral of St. Paul and the St. Paul Library.

Nerdahl is clearly a regular program attendee. “Google has been telling me for two years that it’s a seven minute walk to work, and I realized that it thinks I work at the community center,” she says.

“No matter your background or interest, there are always things to do, and you can bring your grandchildren. That’s why my phone thinks I work there.”

For seniors in the area, wellness remains an important piece of their activity puzzle. Heidi Johnston is the director of wellness at SilverCreek on Main, a senior living community offering a full wellness center to residents and anyone 55+ in the community who would like to join. “It’s a big piece of why residents move here,” Johnston says. “They want to keep their bodies healthy, and we have two to three classes a day.” Those programs include pool programming and strength and personal training (for a separate fee). The warm water of the pool aids those with chronic pain, arthritis and other concerns.

The full wellness center helps seniors stay active, so they can participate in their community, and it’s a busy place. With games, classes and outings, Johnston says, at times, it feels like she works on a cruise ship. “What I’m learning about Maple Grove is that there are a lot of options and a lot of proximity. They live on the lake and yet they’re right in Maple Grove,” Johnston says.

On June 21, SilverCreek on Main will host its annual Longest Day Event benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association. Last year, the event raised over $4,500 for the organization. It’s a cause important to many in the community, as the illness touches so many lives.

For retirees in the Maple Grove community, there’s no shortage of activities to attend and new skills to learn. The environment is full of individuals excited about the new chapter in their lives, and now with more time to learn, there’s a whole city and state to explore.