In a Senate hearing commemorating the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Special Committee on Aging, committee chairman, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) said funding for home and community based services should not be cut.

In opening remarks for the hearing, titled “Aging in America: Future Challenges, Promise and Potential,” Kohl reminded those in attendance that by 2030, “nearly 20% of Americans will be over age 65, compared with 13% today.”

Of this rapidly aging population, the most costly and vulnerable group includes individuals with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, according to hearing panelist Richard J. Hodes, M.D., director of the National Institute on Aging. He said it is critical that the Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to track costs and morbidity associated with dementia.

“Currently, it is estimated in various studies that some 2.4 to 5.1 million Americans have dementia, primarily Alzheimer’s disease,” Hodes testified.

Kohl praised the committee’s long list of accomplishments. Highlights include helping pass the Older Americans Act, the convening of the first White House Conference on Aging in 1961 and the passage of the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act.