The vast majority of baby boomers and their parents are deeply concerned about the current economy and the future and many are seeking outside advice, says a new survey by AARP of people 45 years of age and older.

   A telephone survey of 1,002 people at least 45 years old shows most of them, 81%, feel the economy is in fairly bad or very bad condition and three-quarters of the respondents think it will get worse. Nearly two-thirds, 63%, of those surveyed own stocks and 72% of those have lost money on their portfolios in the last year.

   The situation is causing retirees and those near retirement to turn to outside advisors for assistance, with 37% saying they are more likely to consult a financial planner now, 33% saying they will consult a financial planning publication and 22% saying they will turn to the Internet for more information. AARP says the survey is the most comprehensive one to date to gather opinions from boomers and their parents.

   "The current economic downturn is forcing millions of Americans to make very difficult decisions on their immediate survival and long-term financial security," says Tom Nelson, AARP chief operating officer.

   Nearly a third of pre-retirees are putting less money in savings. At the same time, 27% of those 45- to 64-year olds say they are postponing retiring and an almost equal number are prematurely taking money out of retirement investments.

   "It may be years before we realize the full scope of the current economic crisis," says Nelson. "Taking money out of your retirement savings has a compounding effect because that money is not allowed to grow at a time when you have fewer working years to replace the losses."