The economic downturn is hitting roughly one in 10 middle-aged and older Americans especially hard, compelling them to borrow money for everyday living expenses and to seek help from family, friends or charities, according to a survey released today by the AARP.

In the telephone survey of 1,002 adults 45 and older, nearly four in 10 said they had helped a child pay bills or expenses. Among retirees, one-third said they'd helped their children pay bills. Eight percent said they'd helped a parent pay bills or expenses. The survey's margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

One-third of survey participants said they stopped putting money into their 401(k) or retirement account, and 14 percent said they had cut back on their medications.

The majority of baby boomers said they were finding it more difficult to pay for essentials and utilities, and six in 10 said they had cut back on eating out and entertainment.

Compared with older people, a greater percentage of younger baby boomers, those 45 to 54, said they were cutting back on medications, prematurely withdrawing retirement funds and postponing paying bills.