Engagement in meaningful occupation, including paid work is considered an important determinant of health, impacted by injury or illness. Dementia is one neurodegenerative syndrome with potential to compromise capacity for remaining engaged in paid employment. In response to ‘ageing’ populations globally, policy shifts within developed economies are increasing workforce participation for those over 45 years and eligibility ages for retirement pensions. Dementia onset is not limited to ‘older age’, consequently an increased impact of dementia is likely for both older workers and those experiencing younger onset dementia. Therefore, identifying and addressing workforce participation issues confronting people with dementia is becoming increasingly important for occupational therapy practice.
This scoping review draws on peer reviewed literature to explore the impact of dementia on workers across the three domains of occupational engagement: occupational competence; occupational participation; and occupational identity using the Model of Human Occupation (MOHO). International studies published in English including full‐text translations between 2000 and 2017 were identified from an incremental search of electronic databases (Web of Science; Scopus; Proquest; MEDLINE; CINAHL; and Health Business Elite) and hand searched reference lists.
Six relevant papers were identified and retained for analysis, all reporting qualitative studies. Data were collated under the three domains of occupational engagement and further organised into emergent subcategories. While evidence was limited, person‐centred approaches addressing dementia‐related changes in occupational competence; workforce participation choices; and redefinition of occupational identity may mitigate negative experiences associated with transitioning from paid worker roles.
There is a significant need for further research exploring the impact of dementia on engagement in paid work. Occupational therapists have an important part to play in enabling access to person‐centred interventions that promote continued engagement in meaningful occupational roles, including opportunities to extend workforce participation and engage in supported transitions to retirement.