Most Americans over 60 years old think today’s economy is worse than any they have experienced in the past.

Researchers from the MetLife Market Institute, Westport, Conn., an arm of MetLife Inc., New York, have published that finding in a summary of results a Web-based survey of 538 U.S. adults ages 60 and older.

Asked to compare the current economy to similar situations in the past, 53% of Americans over age 60 said today’s conditions are the worst they’ve seen–even though unemployment and inflation rates have been higher within the last 30 years.

Researchers found that 87% of the participants said they are cutting back on spending, with 82% spending less on dining out and vacations, and 70% saying they are reducing consumption of essentials such as food and transportation. In addition, 17% said they have had to give more financial help to family or friends because of the state of the current economy.

About 73% of the participants who are still working said they would not postpone their planned retirement date because of the current economy.

Other findings:

- 92% of survey participants classify the current state of the economy as “headed for” or “in the midst of” a downturn, and 50% predict the poor economy will linger for at least 12 more months.

- 63% hold Washington responsible. Democrats were more negative about economic prospects than Republicans, with 62% of the Democrats believing that the downturn will last more than 12 months, compared with 34% of Republicans.

- 94% of those earning less than $35,000 a year have cut back on spending, compared with 72% of those earning $75,000 or more.

- 23% said they are taking more action on finances, such as reading more about finances and seeking help from a financial advisor.