One in four pensioners are borrowing money without any plan to pay it back, a survey from advisers Sesame suggests.
Pensioners are losing their aversion to debt
In addition, one in seven of the 2,000 pensioners surveyed said they would consider equity release to clear off credit card and loan debt.
The findings fly in the face of the long-held view that UK pensioners try to avoid debt at all costs.
The group said that today's pensioners had used credit in the 1960s and 1970s and were more comfortable with it.
But Alastair Conway, a spokesman for Sesame Financial Advisers, warned that debt held dangers for pensioners, particularly as many have a fixed income or an income that only rose in line with prices.
"People have to take control of their finances in the lead-up to retirement and beyond, if we are to avoid adding to the UK's mounting debt crisis," he said.
"This is because the ability of retired people to recover from bad financial decisions is more limited."
It may become more common for people to die with debts, Mr Conway added.