Overhead view of the surrounding countryside

Choosing Applewood: Embracing an Active Retirement with Premier Monmouth County Amenities

Jun 27, 2024

Susan and Richard Barasch

Brooklyn native Susan Barasch and Richard Elliott, from upstate New York, reveled in their retirement life in Asheville, NC, for nearly a decade. They enjoyed a healthy outdoor lifestyle and built lasting friendships, particularly with former New Jerseyans, Tom and Kathy Graziano.

As the years passed, the Grazianos decided to return to New Jersey to be closer to their children and live in a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) where they could remain in place if they faced aging or health challenges.

“Richard and I were approaching our 80s and started to consider the next few decades of our own lives,” Susan recalls. “While we’re fortunate to be in good health, there’s also the reality that we want to be well positioned if we need support someday.

Susan, a former elementary school teacher, and Richard, a retired pharmaceutical executive, looked for a CCRC in the Carolinas, but options were limited. They also wanted to live in a home rather than an apartment, which further reduced their choices.

Venturing back home to New Jersey

When the Graziazos found their new home at Applewood in Monmouth County, NJ, Susan and Richard decided to visit their friends and their community. They also have family in New Jersey, making a move back to New Jersey also appealing.

“We were living in a 2,000 sq. ft condo but knew a smaller space with the right layout would also work for us,” Susan notes. “When a 2BD/2BA Presidential cottage home with a den became available, Richard and I loved it instantly.” In April 2023, the couple moved to their new home, which includes a back patio facing the woods.

Once they moved back north, the couple realized how much they had missed New Jersey life, where they lived for 30 years. They quickly immersed themselves into the culture at Applewood and continued to spend winters in Florida. “It’s funny, this year I was really looking forward to returning to Applewood,” Susan says.

Susan is already serving as chair of the Employee Appreciation Committee and she and Richard quickly immersed themselves in Applewood’s Engaged Living™ lifestyle; they attend the One Day University Lifelong Learning lectures and socialize during holiday events and monthly cocktail parties.

Enjoying the Monmouth County lifestyle

An avid hiker, Richard has quickly become familiar with the nearby parks and walking trails just minutes from Applewood. They also participated in activities at the Freehold Senior Center and joined the highly-rated Monmouth County Library. Susan has also made new connections golfing at the Pine Brook Golf Course. “I’ve enjoyed making some ‘off-campus’ friends at the course.”

Richard Barasch

Richard and Susan are live theater fans and look forward to watching performances at the Paper Mill Theater in NJ and traveling to New York City for Broadway shows. Of course, living just 30 minutes from the world-famous Jersey Shore is also a significant asset.

Advice to future CCRC residents

The couple shared several valuable recommendations based on their careful search for a continuing care community transition:

Research the physical environment around your CCRC


Visit and research the community and county around your CCRC and ensure they offer the lifestyle and amenities you are interested in pursuing. Do you see things in the community that interest you and make you want to return? For example, if you are looking for a place of worship, water activities or varied dining experiences, tour the area during your visit to ensure these options are available.

Pre-Determine What You want from your CCRC

Susan and Richard defined non-negotiable needs before they began their search:

  • A home rather than an apartment
  • At least 1,200 sq. ft. of living space
  •  Local opportunities for hiking, distance walking, nearby golf courses
  • Garage
  • Fitness programming and modern gym

Be proactive, not reactive, about the next decade.

We are both healthy now, but realistic that aging and health challenges may arise,“ says Susan introspectively. “Should a situation occur, we want to have support and assistance already in place until we’re back on our feet again.” The couple agreed they did not want the stress of looking for a new home during or after the fact.

Susan Barasch

Applewood is a leading CCRC in New Jersey

Choosing the right CCRC is crucial in shaping retirement enjoyment and peace of mind. Applewood offers the perfect blend of vibrant community life, excellent amenities and the comfort of a home-like setting, all in the heart of Monmouth County, New Jersey. Whether you are seeking a supportive environment as you age or want to enjoy non-stop active lifestyle experiences, Applewood offers endless opportunities to thrive.