Introduction: Engagement in meaningful occupation including paid work is important for health and well‐being. Meaningful occupation is defined beyond the paid worker role to include participation in all activities that people need or want to participate in, based on their individual goals and lifestyle choices. However, dementia is one neuro‐degenerative syndrome with potential to cause considerable disruption to occupational engagement, and does not impact only older people. An estimated 26,000 people of working age are currently living with a dementia in Australia. Therefore, addressing workforce participation issues confronting workers experiencing symptoms of a dementia is becoming increasingly important for occupational therapists.
Objectives: Explore ways workforce participation is maintained when symptoms of dementia occur and discuss factors influencing worker experiences of eventually transitioning from paid employment.
Method: This in‐depth single case study extends on findings from a larger study exploring the experiences of transitioning from the worker role to retirement with a purposive sample of Australians (n = 10) who were living with a dementia whilst in paid work. One volunteer participated in further in‐depth interviews including reflection on findings from the larger study to explore specific enablers to: (i) maintaining the occupational role of paid worker; and (ii) transitioning to other meaningful occupational roles following separation from work.
Results: Thematic analysis identified key enablers for maintaining, and transitioning from, the paid worker role for the person living with a dementia: (i) Early engagement with stakeholders, including employers, colleagues and trusted health professionals; (ii) Use of reasonable adjustment strategies to enable continued workforce participation; (iii) Staging the transition from a full‐time role; and (iv) establishing other meaningful occupational roles prior to ceasing paid work.
Conclusion: People living with dementia may require person‐centred interventions to maintain their paid worker role and other meaningful roles. Occupational therapists are well placed to advocate for this support.