Finding someone you trust to babysit your kids that doesn’t charge an arm and a leg can be hard. For many families, that’s where grandparents come in. They can seem like the perfect, no-hassle sitters, but in some cases they might not be. Do you let the grandparents babysit you kids? If so, you might want to consider these factors first.

When family lives close by it can seem like a no-brainer to look to grandparents when you need someone to watch the kids. Americans are waiting longer to have kids—which means grandparents are older as well. With one in 10 adults age 65 or older diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, chances are greater that older grandparents will be facing age-related changes that might impair their ability to look after young kids.

“Once grandparents get to age 70 or older, we start to see more of an effect on health when they’re participating in daily activities with grandchildren,” Dr. Laurence Solberg, chief of the division of geriatric medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine, told U.S. News and World Report. Factors like poor vision, slow reaction time, muscle weakness and even medications that cause drowsiness could affect a grandparents ability to care for kids, Solberg explained.

Age-related issues aren’t always obvious and sometimes older adults don’t realize their own symptoms and limitations. There are certain signs you can watch out for says Solberg, that can help you determine if you should reconsider using grandparents as babysitters. These include cognitive decline, muscle weakness, chronic disease, trouble driving and mood changes.

Of course not all older adults face the same age-related issues and many are in excellent health. It’s just important to consider all the factors when you enlist your parents to babysit on date night, the same way you would with any babysitter.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: Pexels

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