For millions of aging Americans, it starts by examining the 401(k) statement. Their retirement savings plan has gone nowhere for more than a decade. Their mood darkens when they think about their debts (too many) and their savings (too little). The harsh recession has taken a toll on households headed by people aged 55 to 64, who have seen their wealth—net equity in homes and financial assets combined—fall 13.7 percent, to an average $222,300, since the recession hit. “We’re in a mess when it comes to retirement,” says Steven Sass, program director of the Financial Security Project at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.