22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Sonja Ehret

Sonja Ehret was born in 1960 in Heidelberg. She has worked in many jobs, for example, as a bank clerk, and as a nursing assistant at the Nordbaden Wiesloch psychiatric centre and is also involved in the registered association »Selbständig Wohnen« (tr. Living Independently). Ehret first gained a degree in social work at college in Mannheim before studying gerontology at Ruprecht Karls University in Heidelberg. It was in this subject that she achieved her PhD at the Faculty for Behavioural and Empirical Cultural Studies with a dissertation titled »›Ich werde lebendig‹. Persönliche Geschehensordnung und Daseinsthematische Begleitung bei Menschen mit Demenz« (tr. I come to life. Personal continuation of the course of life and companionship in people with dementia). As a member of the academic staff, she has worked on research projects like DEMIAN (People with dementia in individually meaningful everyday situations, from 2004–2010), THELIA (Thematic care of the aged in people with dementia) and QUADEM (Qualifying measures for improving quality of life for people with dementia) and is involved in the Wiesbaden Dementia Forum.

The focuses of her work include the theory of the themes of being as well as sociocultural aspects in family relationships in cases of dementia. As such, she has demonstrated the usefulness of voluntary support and care insofar that relatives also live through a »life phase marked by crisis« in which their relationships to sick people often unavoidably take on ambivalent characteristics. Ehret not only presents the mental transformation that takes place in ageing people in essays, lectures and seminars, but also looks at the dynamics of ethical and moral ideas in society with respect to the human course of life. She sees the basic prerequisite for dealing respectfully with age-related illnesses in a »caring«, »morally responsible« society that contributes time, affection and respect. Ehret also works to generate more awareness in society about the problematic fact that relatives often simply accept personal limitations out of solidarity and care. Voluntary care, Ehret maintains, is able to create a »benevolent situation for and with one another« not only with respect to housekeeping matters but also from a psychosocial point of view. In addition to seminars at Heidelberg University, Ehret also teaches at the Gerontology Competence Centre at Bern University of the Applied Sciences and at the Hamburg Open University. She also works as an expert in legal, journalistic and social matters connected with dementia.