Objective: Mild dementia is marked by deficits in cognition and everyday activities. However, few studies have translated findings from both areas of functioning into effective cognitive rehabilitation. The purpose of this review was to critically evaluate the existing literature on the type and success of interventions and on their extent of use of cognitive theory. Given the limited evidence base in this population, further insights were obtained from studies on mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which involves fewer cognitive and everyday functioning problems than dementia. Methods: From the literature searches, 11 studies on mild dementia and three studies on MCI were obtained. Studies were only included if the interventions either targeted instrumental activities of daily living or activities of daily living directly or as an outcome measure or if the interventions focused on real-life aspects not captured in the standardised daily activities. For inclusion, patients needed a diagnosis of dementia or MCI, and Mini-Mental State Examination scores had to be above 17 for mild dementia. Results: The majority of interventions indicated improved everyday activity performance in early dementia and MCI. Focusing on individual, as opposed to global, daily activities appeared to be an important determinant of intervention success in mild dementia but not in MCI. However, few attempts had been made to develop interventions grounded in evidence-based models. Conclusions: This review highlights the need for further translation of the understanding of cognitive and everyday activity deficits into successful interventions for daily activities in MCI and early dementia. Hence, research is first required to link individual activities with cognitive domains. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.