In 2004 in Europe, more than two-thirds of those born during 1945–54 had a parent or parent-in-law alive, and the rates of co-residence with their ascendants ranged from less than four per cent in Sweden, Denmark and The Netherlands, to between 17 and 24 per cent in Italy, Spain and Greece. The proportions that had provided practical help to their parents during the previous 12 months had a north-south gradient, from approximately one-in-three in the northern countries to 15 per cent or less in the southern countries. In contrast, the proportions of the helpers that provided regular and almost daily help had an inverse pattern, being low in Sweden and Denmark and much higher in the south. Some of these differences may be attributable to variations among the countries in the interpretation of ‘help’. Help to elderly parents tends to be most associated with the gender of givers and receivers, the living arrangements, geographical proximity and needs of the parents, and the availability of adult children who can help. There is little evidence of a specific ‘baby-boomer generation’ effect on the probability of giving help.