When Tom Palome was 39, he was earning a six-figure salary as a marketing executive.

Now, at 77, "I earn in a week what I used to earn in an hour," he told Bloomberg News. Palome worked hard, paid off his mortgage and helped his kids through college, but he didn't save enough for retirement. And after the 2008 financial crisis hit, a huge portion of what he had saved was wiped out.

Palome collects some money from Social Security and a pension, but he works a part-time job at a Sam's Club in Brandon, Fla., making $10 an hour ,and another part-time job as a golf club short-order cook and bartender for $7.98 an hour, plus tips, to make ends meet.

He feels lucky, blessed with good health and the ability to work, and he says it's important to respect whatever job he does. "I know seniors like me who hardly ever leave their homes because they don't have money to do anything," he said. "They could work, but won't take a lesser job."

According to government data, 7.2 million Americans who were 65 or older last year were employed, which is a 67 percent increase in the last decade. And 59 percent of households headed by people over 65 have nothing saved for retirement.

"Longevity should be a blessing, but if you haven't planned for it, you're going to work much longer than you ever dreamed of doing," said asset manager Larry Fink.