Diane Gage Lofgren

(619) 871-4243

Margaret Bhola

 (619) 544-9209


For Immediate Release

Authors Encourage Women to Be Intentional About Strengthening Female Friendships


(San Francisco, CA) — Many women think they have plenty of girlfriends, but the authors of a new book challenge women to list the top three friends they’d call if their lives fell apart today. Chances are, women may not have the friends they want when they need them the most, and not having friends leaves women more vulnerable to emotional and physical illness, from heart disease and cancer to depression and dementia, say co-authors Diane Gage Lofgren and Margaret Bhola, who have just released Women I Want to Grow Old With: Grow Old Together With Courage Health & Attitude! (CreateSpace, 2013).

“As women, we desperately need female friendships to help reduce stress, provide perspective, stave off loneliness, prevent illness, and reduce the chances of disease,” says Lofgren. “But the urgencies of the moment prevent women from ensuring we have a safety net of women we can rely on when life is good or all hell breaks loose. Who doesn’t fear being alone or lonely when we move, divorce, change jobs, retire, face an empty nest, or suffer the loss of a partner or dear friend? Female friends fill unspeakable voids, provide certainty in uncertain times, and offer a safeguard of love and support. ”

For those who think, “Oh I have friends, I don’t need to worry,” the authors encourage women to be brutally honest.

“Aren’t most of us on autopilot when it comes to friends?” asks Bhola. “We often rely on comfortable friendship beliefs, such as, ‘I have one good friend, that’s enough,’ ‘I have lots of friends at work,’ or ‘My friends will be there for me when things slow down.’ We don’t upgrade our friend-making and friend-keeping skills. Our book urges women to take stock of their female friendships and take action now to intentionally create a circle of women we want to grow old with. We can’t just fill that need on demand, like hot water from the tap.  We have to continually add to our relationship reservoir.”

Propelled by deep, personal experiences that caused them to recognize how much they wanted and needed girlfriends, Lofgren and Bhola spent four years gathering stories and insights from women to help others learn how to create, strengthen and enjoy the rewards of female friendship.

The book’s eleven chapters offer fresh ideas for more meaningful and vibrant relationships. This includes suggestions for striking up conversations with someone new, exploring diversity, and overcoming upsets. Women throughout the country share how they spice up their day-to-day friendships with virtual glasses of wine, Friday breakfast bitch sessions, or an impromptu “slumper” party.

The authors believe groups of women provide an extra dose of companionship and connection.

“Take the initiative and ask your friends if they want to Grow Old Together with Courage Health and Attitude! – GOTCHA!” says Margaret. “Being part of a GOTCHA! Group helps us connect with women friends in a more profound way by making a commitment to be there for each other over time.”

Chapter 8 of Women I Want to Grow Old With explores different kinds of groups women have created:

  • San Francisco East Bay women belong to a “book club without the book.” They gather to enjoy chocolate and wine tasting, learn Hoola Hooping, or hike a botanical garden – all without dues or even an obligation to show up.
  • Four East Coast friends meet annually for a 72-hour sailing adventure complete with fine food, linen napkins, skinny dipping, and, of course, time to work through “serious issues.”
  • Three “sisterfriends” find that the art of friendship is often getting together with no agenda or need to do anything.


The authors help readers realize that friendships are as important to well-being as good health and sound finances. When women hang out with friends, their bodies release the hormone oxytocin, which combats stress and creates calm, according to a landmark UCLA study. Having friends reduces the risk of physical health issues and allows us to more easily recover after the death of a partner, according to the Harvard Medical School Nurses’ Health Study. And, women with friends are 26 percent less likely to develop dementia, according to a Kaiser Permanente study in the American Journal of Public Health. (Visit for more research on the health benefits of woman-to-woman friendships.)

The book is written for women of all ages. It appeals to those who have been through situations that have left them clear that they don’t want to feel alone or lonely – at any point in their lives.  And, it offers all women tips for improving their ability to make and keep friends – and get even more satisfaction from existing friendships.

The authors encourage women to join the conversation about intentionally sustaining and maintaining their female friendships through their blog,;  facebook/womeniwanttogrowoldwith; Twitter @gotchafriends and their website,


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About the Authors Diane Gage Lofgren is the author of nine published books, including titles such as Get Published: Top Editors Tell You How (Holt), Self-Marketing Secrets (Pfieffer), and Change Your Child’s Behavior by Changing Yours (Crown).  Her byline has appeared in Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Seventeen, and other magazines and journals.  Currently, Gage Lofgren is the senior vice president of communications for a national health system and tweets regularly on health care and leadership, using the handle @dianelofgren.


Margaret Bhola has an extensive background in business, sales and marketing, and human relations. She became a top national sales producer for several large companies and is known for being an effective leader and team coach.  Today, she oversees a business as a health coach and prevention advocate, with a Facbook page, Margaret Bhola’s Vitality Through Health.