Phyllis Bruce

smiling woman with colorful neck scarf

A pharmacist who previously serviced Applewood chooses the CCRC after a move from Delaware during Covid-19 In the early 1990s, Phyllis Bruce regularly visited Applewood to provide medications to the Skilled Nursing department. She couldn’t help but notice the entire community, which is predominately home to active independent seniors age 62+, but also offers assisted living and short-term rehabilitation services.

After the East Brunswick native retired to Delaware for 16 years, she thought she had said goodbye to New Jersey. But in early 2020, shortly after her husband’s passing, the world jolted to a standstill as Covid-19 emerged. Phyllis, living alone in another state, consulted with her son and his family about moving closer to them. They wholeheartedly agreed and quickly mobilized.

Finding a senior community to suit four essential needs

The community she was looking for needed to meet four specific criteria:

  • Safety – Living alone, she wanted to feel protected and secure 24/7
  • Maintenance-free living – No more worrying about home upkeep or snow removal
  • Friendly & active community – Many activities and people who like to do things
  • Close to Monroe Township – No more than 10 miles away from her son

“They scouted retirement communities for me and I made sure they added Applewood to the list,” Phyllis recalls. “We all agreed that Applewood truly stood apart from the others and the Sales Department made the move easy and exciting, even during Covid-19.”

In April 2020, the retired pharmacist moved into her Juniper Signature apartment on the third floor, offering her a balcony with beautiful afternoon sunlight.

“My apartment was completely gutted, so I was able to choose my own finishes, from countertops and paint colors to flooring and lighting.”

Using her computer to meet new neighbors during quarantine

After Phyllis settled in, the community had transitioned to residents staying in homes and apartments during the initial onset of the virus, making meeting new people challenging.

“I received an email list of the residents who wanted to stay in touch during the quarantine,” Phyllis recalls. “So I sent a message to everyone introducing myself and sharing my story. I was delighted to receive a ton of replies!”

In addition to reconnecting on Facebook with a grammar school friend who had friends happily living at Applewood, Phyllis was able to make friends with people she had never actually met.

Getting involved in community management

Phyllis enjoys a visit from Teddy her local grandchildren’s beloved pup

Now that community residents have received both Covid-19 vaccines, Phyllis is safely meeting her new email friends in person.

Quick to get involved, she is already volunteering in the community library and has joined the Health Committee and Building Maintenance Committee, where she serves as secretary. Phyllis also co-manages the feature display windows along the community promenade, featuring collections and original works created by resident artists and artisans.

“Everything is falling into place and I’m ready to welcome spring,” Phyllis says. “I’m looking forward to hosting neighbors in my apartment and going on day trips to the theater again.” A former Sweet Adeline singer, she is also interested in joining the Applewood chorus when rehearsals resume.

Most importantly, her son is thrilled to have his mother living minutes—not hours—away.

“I’ve come full circle at Applewood, from providing professional services to being a full-fledged member of the community,” Phyllis says. “I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me.”