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A nurse on the medical-surgical floor is caring for an elderly patient with sundowner's syndrome. During the day, the patient is alert and oriented, but when the sun sets, the patient becomes confused, irritable, and agitated. The doctor has ordered lorazepam 0.5 mg, slow IV push, every 6 hours as needed for agitation and confusion. The nurse knows lorazepam can be used in the hospital setting for agitation in the elderly for which of the following reasons?

Explanation

• Ativan (lorazepam) is a benzodiazepine that can be used for agitation when necessary.

• It is safer for use in the elderly because it has a shorter half-life and is cleared from the body faster, preventing a prolonged drug effect due to accumulation in the body.

• Lorazepam, like other benzodiazepines, can become habit-forming, so it should be used only on a short-term basis.

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