Expectations of Hearing Aids
I am a licensed hearing aid dispenser in the state of California, in practice for 15 years.
I read some of these reviews and I see a lot of misunderstanding about what hearing aids can and can't do.
The brand you choose has far less impact on your satisfaction than the ability of the dispenser or dispensing audiologist to (1) explain what you should expect (especially first time users) and (2) adjust them in such a way that sounds are both audible and comfortable.
It needs to be said that improvement for speech (which everybody wants) sometimes results in improvement for other sounds which the user may not desire. But that is the way individuals with good hearing experience sound; if you need improvement in the high frequencies (a very common need!), you're going to hear your footsteps...water running...paper rattling...and a host of other perhaps less-than-necessary improvements.
You should be counseled to expect this, and to re-train your brain to accept and filter things you wish to ignore. This is EXACTLY how people with good hearing function; the new hearing aid user just needs some time and practice to find a way to do the same.
Look for hearing aids with directional mics if you spend a lot of time in noisy situations; that way, you can reduce sounds behind your head and focus on what's in front of you (e.g., in restaurants and at parties). It is not, however, realistic to expect you will never hear noise with "advanced" or "the best" hearing aids.
DO NOT BUY HYPE. There just isn't one best hearing aid in the world. There are several major manufacturers and there is very little in the hearing aid world (in terms of signal processing) that is proprietary.
Manufacturers and their representatives do not want you to know this, but there it is.
Therefore, let your dispenser lead you to the hearing aid(s) with which he or she has the most experience; that way, he or she can optimize what the programming software can do for you.
You will have a choice of less expensive and more expensive; simply put, the more expensive aids have more programming options, which generally leads to a better sound quality for the user.
BUT NOTHING WILL EVER BE LIKE YOUR "ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT"; that's why they're called "aids," not "cures."
THE BEST ADVICE I CAN GIVE YOU: don't wait until you're 85 or 90 years old to try hearing aids for the first time. Address your hearing loss at a younger age for the best results.
The longer you live in a quiet world, the harder it is to adapt to sounds you haven't been hearing. You may believe that your hearing loss is "minor," or "no problem for me"; but even mild hearing losses affect one's ability to participate fully in the world.
If you are avoiding situations because you know you don't hear well in that particular environment, you need to stop telling yourself you're perfectly fine. Hard-of-hearing people who live alone are especially susceptible to this particular delusion.