Eldercare can be a difficult, stressful, and unique challenge. Whether you are caring for a loved one with an acute illness, working through end-of-life care, or somewhere in between, you have options.
First, consider whether the eldercare situation is a “time” (you have time to deal with the issue, e.g., your mother has been diagnosed with a chronic illness) or “no time” (an emergency issue, e.g., your mother broke her hip) event. With a “no time” event or family emergency, your pilot manager is your best resource. In a “time” event, you have many options to take time off work to provide care for your elderly family member. Remember to also consider your own fitness to fly.
Options for time off include Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), personal leave of absence (PLOA), and moving earned vacation time. You may also be able to bid your schedule in ways to allow for maximum time off. You may be able to use paid sick leave to care for an elderly family member who has a serious health condition if you are based in a domicile that has a state sick or state paid family leave law (PFL). Learn more on our pages for FMLA, state sick, and state PFL.
If your FMLA has been exhausted or you’re not eligible to receive FMLA, you may be able to request an unpaid personal leave of absence for eldercare. Contact your employer to determine whether company-paid benefits are available during a personal leave of absence and for how long. Some carriers provide company-paid benefits for a finite period of time and then COBRA rates apply.
Pass Privileges and Jumpseat
Check with your company to verify ability to use pass privileges and jumpseat privileges during leaves for eldercare.
Eldercare can be emotionally challenging and sometimes result in short-term psychological distress. The following resources are available when considering your own fitness to fly.
Pilot Peer Support (PPS) connects ALPA members with trained pilot peers to talk about any personal or professional problems you may be experiencing. PPS volunteers listen and offer confidential, nonjudgmental support. Speak with a PPS peer about any concerns that may threaten your medical certificate, career, and life. Peers are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Contact PPS.
ALPA Aeromedical provides free, confidential consultations with medical professionals to all ALPA members in good standing. Contact ALPA Aeromedical (also known as the Aviation Medicine Advisory Service, or AMAS) at 303-341-4435 Monday through Friday 0830 to 1600 MT or visit the AMAS website.
“Fit to Fly? How Can We Know?” Part 2 is a helpful article. AMAS has a program that maintains the medical privacy of pilots.
The following resources may be helpful when researching eldercare options:
- A Place for Mom. This website connects families with senior living providers. The service provides local advisors who work directly with you to find the right living arrangements for your family member. Learn more. This organization is not affiliated with ALPA.
- Seniors Helpers. This website matches your situation with appropriate care and services. Learn more. This organization is not affiliated ALPA.
- VAVets.gov. Veterans may be able to get assisted living, residential (live-in) or home health care support through the VA. Find out how to access these long-term care services. Learn more. This organization is not affiliated with ALPA.
- Long Term Care Insurance. Federal employees, retired military and qualified relatives may be eligible for Long Term Care Insurance. Check with your Company and banking institution for options. Learn more.
The following resources are available when considering your own health (mental, physical, and emotional) and fitness to fly:
- Caring for the Caregiver. Eldercare can be emotionally challenging. Support groups and resources are available if you need them. Learn more. This organization is not affiliated with ALPA.