This paper reports on a study exploring the experiences and meaning of social participation for family carers of people living with dementia. Participants were 33 family carers (17 spouses and 16 adult children) of older adults diagnosed with dementia (any stage or type) who responded to advertisements by the national Alzheimer's association, Alzheimer's Australia. Data were collected through semi-structured face-to-face and/or telephone interviews using an interview guide, which included prompts such as ‘Tell me about what social participation means to you’, and ‘How did this change…’. The methods of grounded theory were drawn upon to guide sampling and analysis of data, which continued until theoretical saturation was achieved and occurred over the period September 2011 to March 2012. Data arising from the interviews were analysed line-by-line and coded and categorised using the constant comparative method, with codes clustered into themes and with abstraction from the themes to arrive at the core process. The core category arising from the data was adaptation, which encompassed four main themes: autonomy to choose; the impact of care-giving; employing strategies; and establishing meaningful connections. Carers went through a process whereby the ways in which they had previously participated socially were compromised, which often prompted an exploration of new ways in which to remain socially engaged.