Keeping careful watch over expenditures could help prevent abuse.
Unscrupulous people can take financial advantage of the elderly but a Wall Street Journal article discusses a way to help with this situation in "When Aging Parents Need Help With Financial Tasks."
One of the ways financial abuse of the elderly happens is that an older person is no longer quite as astute or capable in handling their own finances. This makes it possible for an unscrupulous person to take advantage of the older person, gain access to their accounts and use the money for their own purposes.
Adult children of elderly parents need to watch out for their parents to make sure that they are not taken advantage of, but if those children live a long way away there is only so much that can be done.
One idea is to hire a daily money manager.
This is a new field of professionals and volunteers who help elderly people handle their day-to-day finances. The manager helps make sure that bills are paid on time and offers an extra set of eyes to review financial accounts and make sure nothing inappropriate is going on. Of course, that means the person hired for the job needs to be trustworthy.
There is a professional association that certifies its members and conducts background checks. Some local community organizations also coordinate trusted volunteers.
An elder law attorney can be helpful in guiding you on preventing abuse.
Reference: Wall Street Journal (June 10, 2016) "When Aging Parents Need Help With Financial Tasks."