About one in four baby boomers are delaying retirement due to the recent downturn in equities, according to a recent AARP survey.


The survey report, The Economic Slowdown's Impact on Middle-Aged and Older Americans, found that 23% of respondents who lost money in the stock market during the past year have postponed their retirement plans. That includes 32% in the 55-64 age group and 19% in the 45-54 age group.


The poll of 1,002 boomers ages 45 and up was conducted in the spring. The report says 21% of respondents have a spouse postponing retirement.


"We think the 45-54 age group is particularly vulnerable because they are often over leveraged, consume too much and don't save enough," says Scott Spiker, chief executive officer of First Command Financial Services in Fort Worth, Texas. He says this age demographic is nearing its peak earning years, yet many of these folks don't understand their retirement needs.


Stock market woes also caused 23% of respondents to prematurely borrow from retirement plans or other investments, the AARP report found. About one-third of respondents have stopped contributing to a retirement account.


Another thing squeezing retirement plans is home equity-36% of those polled said the value of their home declined during the past year. Still, the majority of respondents say they were not concerned about losing their homes, but were worried about the effect of increasing foreclosures on the national and local economy.


"I'm not surprised at all by the results of the study," says Ronald Roge, an advisor in Bohemia, N.Y. However, he notes that none of his clients have been forced to delay retirement because of stock market losses. Darin Schnall, an advisor in New York City, says that none of his clients have changed retirement plans. "A good advisor would simply not let that happen to a client," he adds.


But Spiker argues many people approaching their golden years don't even have a plan. He says the key to solving retirement planning problems is logical enough: saving regularly and setting up a retirement plan.


-Gregory Bresiger