"The whole notion of retirement does us all a disservice," says Daniel Wishnatsky, a planner who owns Special Kids Financial in Phoenix. "Horses are retired. Most folks [don't need to be] put out to pasture until the Fourth Age, when health compromises our activities." Until then, if one spouse is able to retire and the other isn't, he suggests that the would-be retiree is likely to "remain a card-carrying member of the Second Age and continue as an active and contributing member of society."
I've heard that recent research shows a link between continuing to work and greater longevity. It certainly seems plausible that older folks who stay active and productive will live longer than those who don't. After all, studies have repeatedly demonstrated a positive relationship between social participation and self-reported physical health. So if the devastation of a client couple's portfolio means that one or both spouses will need to keep working instead of retiring, the picture isn't totally bleak. Once you have listened patiently and with compassion to their feelings of disappointment, loss, and even betrayal ("We did everything we were supposed to!"), you may want to suggest an upside to this change: the possibility of a longer, more engaged, healthier life together.